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Egypt closes Gaza crossing

GAZA CITY, June 4 – Egyptian officials at the Rafah border with the Gaza Strip closed the crossing on Saturday, Palestinian police told AFP.

Ayub Abu Shaa, head of the Hamas police unit at Rafah, said phone calls to the Egyptian side went unanswered and a crowd of hundreds of Palestinians seeking to cross to Egypt were faced with a locked gate.

According to a security source in Egypt, the crossing remained closed for works which were to have been completed on Friday and efforts were underway to allow through Palestinian buses.

Egypt reopened the Rafah crossing, the only way in and out of Gaza that is not controlled by Israel, last month after it had been largely shut since June 2006 when Israel imposed a blockade after militants snatched an Israeli soldier.

The Israeli blockade was tightened a year later when the Islamist movement Hamas seized control of the territory, with Egypt cooperating by tightly restricting movement through Rafah.

Egypt\’s decision to permanently reopen Rafah came more than three months after former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak resigned following 18 days of massive street protests against his rule.

The sudden closure came a day after Lebanon barred its residents from approaching the border with Israel on Sunday, when the Palestinians mark 44 years since the seizure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the Six-Day War.

Palestinians in Lebanon and other Arab states neighbouring Israel have said they plan to march on the Jewish state\’s borders to mark the anniversary.

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