Egypt closes Rafah border crossing to Gaza following escalation between Israel and Hamas | MCUTimes

Egypt closes Rafah border crossing to Gaza following escalation between Israel and Hamas

Egypt will close the Rafah crossing on the border with the Gaza Strip until further notice on Monday, Egyptian security sources said.

Hamas, the Palestinian faction that controls Gaza, said it had been informed by Egypt of the decision to close the crossing in both directions without giving details.

According to two Egyptian security sources, the closure was made for security reasons following an escalation on Saturday between Israel and Hamas, in which Israeli planes struck places in Gaza after shots fired over Gaza’s border with Israel earlier in the day.

The latest escalation saw an Israeli border policeman, 21-year-old St.-Sgt. Bar-el Shmueli, seriously wounded after being shot at the border.

21-year-old St.-Sgt. Bar-el Shmueli of Beer Yaakov, shot by a Palestinian militant during border riots in Gaza (credit: BORDER POLICE)

Shmueli was shot by a Palestinian who had been able to approach the perimeter fence and fire a gun in Shmueli’s firing position.

The attack was seen in a video shared on social media where dozens of Palestinians gathered along the fence near Shmueli’s position. One saw one try to snatch his weapon; even though the Palestinian managed to grab the barrel, Shmueli managed to pull it back.

“The soldier fought back and prevented the gun in his hands from being taken away,” an IDF spokesman said.

In another video of the same incident, Palestinians are seen throwing objects and hitting the barrel of the weapon, and then a riot is seen approaching Shmueli’s position and firing a gun into it.
The IDF launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Rafah is the only crossing between Egypt and Gaza, where an Israeli-led blockade has for years placed severe restrictions on the movement of goods and people.

Egypt had opened the crossing indefinitely in February in what was described as an attempt to encourage negotiations between Palestinian factions meeting at the time in Cairo.

Egypt kept the cross open during and after an 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in May, delivering aid and building materials through Rafah after helping to mediate a ceasefire between the two sides.

Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.

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