Nightmare avoided at Gaza border

Monday, February 25, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

Thousands of Israeli police and soldiers were deployed to the northern border of the Gaza Strip on Monday fearing a planned mass gathering of Palestinians would lead to an attempt to breach the security fence and enter southern Israel.

In the end, however, a mere 5,000 out of an expected 40,000 Palestinians showed up for the rally to protest what the Arabs call Israel's "siege" of Gaza.

Israel National News reported that a small number of Palestinians did attempt to march toward the Erez Crossing, but were turned back by Hamas gunmen who feared an armed confrontation with the massed Israeli forces.

Last month, the Arabs of Gaza did manage to break through the coastal territory's border with Egypt, and streamed into the Sinai Peninsula. That breach was also portrayed as a response necessitated by the Israeli blockade.

Israel has imposed a limited embargo on the import of non-essential goods and industrial fuel into the Gaza Strip in response to ongoing Palestinian rocket attacks against southern Israel. Food and essential medical supplies to continue to enter Gaza, but some foreign aid workers say much of it is being stolen by Hamas.

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