Egypt Starts Building New Wall on Gaza Border

CAIRO (RIA Novosti) — Egypt has begun the construction of a new wall along its border with the Gaza Strip, local media said on Thursday.

An Egyptian security official told the Al-Ahram newspaper that the new three-meter-high (10-foot-high) concrete wall was a "preventive measure" aimed at strengthening the country’s national security, as well as fulfilling international commitments.

In January, thousands of Palestinians entered Egypt after militants blew up parts of the wall dividing Egypt and the Gaza town of Rafah.

Egyptian authorities then allowed Palestinians free access to the Sinai Peninsula to buy food, fuel and other essential items in short supply, following an Israeli embargo imposed on the Gaza Strip in punishment for almost-daily rocket attacks by Islamic militants on Israeli towns.

On February 4, after Egyptian security forces sealed the border wall following international pressure, violence broke out between Palestinians and Egyptian police. At least one Palestinian was killed and six injured in armed clashes at the Rafah checkpoint.

Under international agreements, the opening of the Gaza-Egypt border crossing can only be sanctioned by Israel with the participation of European Union observers.

The Gaza Strip has been ruled by Hamas since last June, when the hard-line Islamic group took control of the territory, ousting President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement.