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U.S., Israel pressure Egypt over Gaza opening

Israel worries weapons will be brought across border


The United States and Israel are pressuring Egypt to monitor its border with Gaza to ensure Hamas militants do not use the opening to send weapons into Gaza, the Associated Press reports.

Egypt announced Wednesday it was permanently opening its Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip. The Rafah border has functioned with limited capacity and frequent closures for years.

The opening on Saturday will give 1.6 million Gazans access to the outside world for the first time in four years.

However, it also caused concern that the move will strengthen Hamas and enable the militant groups to use the opening to smuggle weapons and people into the Palestinian territories.

"We obviously support efforts to meet the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people in Gaza, but those efforts should also ensure that the transfer of weapons or other material or financial support for terrorism is blocked," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, as reported by Haaretz.

The border between Rafah and the Gaza Strip has been closed since 2007 when Hamas took control of Gaza.

The closing of the border has long been unpopular among Egyptians, and Egypt's caretaker government has recently distanced itself from Israel and shown greater support for the Palestinians.

Egypt's newly appointed foreign minister, Nabil el-Araby, has indicated that he viewed the blockade as inhumane and shameful, the New York Times reports.

Israel has accused Egypt's new government of practically halting efforts to prevent weapons smuggling into Gaza.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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