Hamas closes Gaza crossing into Egypt as tensions rise

Hamas closed the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt yesterday, partially reinstating a four-year blockade that was lifted only the week before. Hamas, the militant Islamist organisation which governs Gaza, took the decision in response to growing tension with Egypt's new post-Mubarak regime. After announcing the opening of the border last week, officials in Cairo rapidly backtracked, and then announced restricted access to crossings, apparently to cope with a huge influx of Palestinians trying to escape Gaza.

"We want to hear from them [the Egyptian government] whether the declared easing of travel restrictions are still in place," said Hatem Oweida, head of Hamas's crossings authority. "We need to know how many passengers can cross [each day] and we need our Egyptian brothers to speed up the processing of passengers through their side."

The recent wave of revolutions across the Arab world initially created some optimism among Palestinians that Arab regimes would become more supportive.

The end of Hosni Mubarak's regime was seen as an opportunity for Palestinians to press their cause more aggressively. But relations between Hamas and Egypt rapidly broke down.

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