Sinai attack seals up Gaza to outside world (+video)
In the wake of yesterday's attack on Egyptian guards in the Sinai, Gaza's border crossings with Israel and Egypt, as well as smuggling tunnels, have been shut down.
Gaza City, Gaza
Although Islamic militant group Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, has strongly condemned the killing of Egyptian guards at the border with Israel and Gaza yesterday, many Palestinians in the enclave still blame the group for not doing enough to exert control over the border.
Gunmen disguised as Bedouins attacked an Egyptian border post yesterday, killing at least 16 guards and soldiers. The attackers then hijacked two armored vehicles and stormed the border with Israel. One was destroyed by Israeli attack helicopters, while the other exploded when it came into contact with an evacuated Israeli border post, but several of the gunmen remain at large
The incident could strain the relationship between Egypt's newly empowered Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, an offshoot of the Egyptian Islamist group, if it turns out that the gunmen came from Gaza as Egyptian officials have alleged.
Israel and Egypt have closed their official border crossings with Gaza until further notice, and Egyptian and Hamas officials have shut down the hundreds of tunnels that are used to smuggle food, fuel, and construction materials to the Israel-blockaded seaside territory because Egypt believes that the gunmen tried to escape into Gaza through them.
Gazans get a major percentage of their goods through the smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Gaza, and news of the closure of both the border crossings and tunnels panicked residents, bringing back dire memories of a tight Israeli blockade that deprived the area of many daily needs before the tunnels were dug.
In Gaza City, cars lined up in front of gas stations to refill in preparation for an expected shortage and people flocked to markets to stock up on goods after rumors spread that the Egyptian military planned to destroy the tunnels.
"Only God knows when the border will open again," says Um Khaled, a teacher, as she bought canned beef and sardines in Gaza's old market. "The Egyptians have helped us a lot. They opened the borders for us and let the tunnels work around the clock. Killing [the Egyptians] should not be the reward."