Egyptian soldiers isolated on the Gaza border by 10 days of internal upheaval are getting bread, canned goods and other food supplies from the Palestinian enclave, which is usually on the receiving end of food aid.
A source in the border town of Rafah said security forces of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which rules Gaza, had been providing the troops with supplies for the past three days.
Israel has blockaded Gaza for over three years with the assistance of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's government, and half the population depends on handouts of staples from the United Nations. With mass protests demanding Mubarak should quit, sources in Rafah said north Sinai was tense. Angry Bedouins were in control of many roads following armed clashes with Egyptian police.
The sources said Palestinian merchants in Gaza have also been smuggling vegetables, eggs and other staples into Egypt, where store owners have run out of stock because normal supplies are cut off by the unrest -- reversing the usual flow of goods.
Hamas security forces had beefed up their presence along the border and in the area of Gaza's honeycomb of smuggling tunnels to prevent any breach of the border line. No photography or television images were allowed.