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Hamas says Egypt closing Gaza border 'crime against humanity'

AFP , Tuesday 18 Mar 2014
Rafah crossing border
Egyptian Army soldiers guard gates at main Egyptian crossing point into Gaza Strip, in Rafah city (Photo: Reuters)
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Gaza's Hamas rulers on Tuesday sharply criticised Egypt's closure of the Rafah border crossing, saying Cairo's tightening of restrictions against the Palestinian territory was a "crime against humanity."

"The Egyptian authorities' insistence on closing the Rafah crossing and tightening the Gaza blockade... is a crime against humanity by all standards and a crime against the Palestinian people," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said in a statement.

He condemned "the continuation of this blockade and closing the crossing, all whilst Israel escalates and (increases) aggression."

"We hold all parties to the blockade of Gaza completely responsible for the consequences of this crime," he said.

Egypt's military said on Wednesday that it had destroyed 1,370 smuggling tunnels under its border with the Gaza Strip, as Cairo's ties remain sour with Hamas.

Ties took a turn for the worse after the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, with which Hamas is affiliated.

The tunnels, under the town of Rafah, are used to transfer food, fuel and consumer products into the densely populated Palestinian enclave.

But Hamas and other militant groups reportedly use their own more secret tunnels to bring in arms and money.

Egypt has also severely restricted access through the border town of Rafah -- Gaza's only gate to the world that is not controlled by Israel -- ostensibly for security reasons.

Gaza has been under blockade since 2006, after militants captured an Israeli soldier in a cross-border raid.

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