Israel tells Egypt to keep Gaza crossing closed: officials   2011-05-01 21:21:02 FeedbackPrintRSS

JERUSALEM, May 1 (Xinhua) -- Israeli defense officials said that Israel could not countenance Egypt's announced plan to open the Rafah crossing with Gaza to two-way traffic, local media reported Sunday.

"We cannot allow the crossing to be left wide open to 'terror operatives'," a defense echelon official told Ynet news, adding that "we have passed the message on" to Egyptian officials.

However, Egyptian army chief of staff General Sami Anan said Saturday that the issue of the crossing point was an Egyptian- Palestinian matter, and warned Israel against "interfering."

Israel has been fighting a long-running battle to uncover and destroy hundreds of tunnels between the two areas that smugglers utilize to transfer militants, armaments, money and goods into the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may send envoy Isaac Molho to Egyptian capital Cairo to voice Israel's opposition to the reopening, according to the Ha'aretz daily.

However, a spokesman of the prime minister's office who spoke with Xinhua on Sunday refused to comment on the report.

Israel staunchly maintains that Hamas is a terror organization, and a string of Israeli officials including Netanyahu have said since last week's announcement of the Palestinian reconciliation that Israel will not talk or negotiate with the group or Fatah until the former disavows its founding charter that calls for Israel's destruction.

"Israel supports peace and reaches out a hand for peace to all of our neighbors," Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet session Sunday morning, adding that "on the other side, we will stand against those who want to harm us."

While the terminal remains closed as of Sunday afternoon, Egypt wants to open the crossing point in the wake of the Fatah-Hamas agreement reached in Cairo last week.

Senior Israeli officials have said in recent days that opening the terminal would affect national security interests.

After its pullout from Gaza in 2005, Israel handed over the operation of the terminal to the Palestinian National Authority under international supervision, but then threw a blockade on the coastal enclave in 2007 after Hamas wrested control of the area from rival Fatah. Since then, Egypt has kept the crossing closed for all but humanitarian cases.

Special Report: Palestine-Israel Conflicts

Editor: Chen Zhi
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