CAIRO, Egypt – At least 36 Egyptian security personnel have been hospitalized, including some in critical condition, due to incidents with Palestinians on the Gaza border, the Egyptian foreign minister announced Saturday.
Ahmed Aboul Gheit told reporters following a meeting with the Egyptian president and several cabinet ministers, that between 10 and 12 riot police and 26 border guards, including two senior officers, were all in the hospital, some in danger of losing their lives, due to "actions by Palestinian elements" over the past two days.
"These provocations cause us concern and our Palestinian brothers should note that the Egyptian decision to host them and ease their suffering should not result in threats to the lives of our sons in the Egyptian forces," he said.
There were reports of Hamas gunmen opening fire Friday on Egyptian security forces attempting to stem the flow of thousands of Palestinians into the Egyptian border town of Rafah after border wall was destroyed two days earlier.
Aboul Gheit said that for now Egyptians forces would show self control in the face of these provocations and continue to let Palestinians into Rafah to buy supplies.
"The Egyptian decision has been to allow in the sons of Gaza to ease their suffering," he said. "This was the Egyptian decision taken a few days ago and we are still holding to it."
He added that the Egyptians were hoping to regulate the entry and exist of the Palestinian people as well as engage in talks with the concerned parties to devise a new border system.
Egyptian border guards in armored personnel carriers were seen taking up positions around the various breaches in the frontier wall in Rafah on Saturday but not impeding the flow of people. Palestinians were not allowed to drive out of the town of Rafah into the rest of Egypt, however.