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Egypt's Blockade of Gaza

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Cairo Eases Faza Blockade for 48 Hours to Allow Palestinians to Leave Egypt Amid More Sinai Skimirshes

August 10th 2012

Rafah crossing

Egyptian police have clashed with armed men in the Sinai peninsula, a day after military airstrikes killed 20 suspected militants in the area. State television said the fighting resumed Thursday outside a police station in El-Arish, about 50 kilometers from the border with Israel and the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Strip is the mainly Palestinian  territory of the former now-dissolved Ottoman colony. Israel withdrew from the disputed region in 2005.

There were no immediate reports of casualties. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi fired his intelligence chief and the governor of North Sinai on Wednesday in a major reorganization. The military said it carried out its operation Wednesday to restore peace and regain control after an increase in lawlessness following the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak. Militants launched a bloody attack on the army Sunday, killing 16 Egyptian border guards.

AFP reported that Israel said on Thursday it gave Egypt the go-ahead to deploy helicopters in Sinai, easing the restrictions on military presence in the peninsula set by a 1979 peace treaty between the neighbouring countries. At the same time, Egypt slightly eased its land-sea and air blockade of Gaza for a 48-hour period, one way, to allow Palestinians to exit the country and transit back to Gaza.

AFP also reported: that Sinai tribal leaders said they had agreed to help the military and police to restore security in the lawless peninsula and close down tunnels used to smuggle contraband and weapons to the Gaza Strip. "There was a consensus among the tribes to destroy the tunnels. Let (the Islamist rulers of Gaza) Hamas be upset, we don't care. Egypt should deal with the Palestinians through the Rafah border crossing," said Eid Abu Marzuka, a Bedouin elder. "We are against smuggling, and against the siege," he added, referring to the virtual blockade Israel imposed on the enclave after Hamas seized it in 2007.

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