Egypt deployed some 500 policemen and has declared a state of emergency along its border with the Gaza Strip, Egyptian security sources said, after learning that Palestinians planned a march organized by Hamas in the enclave.
The move to secure the border came amid fear that the protesters might try to enter Sinai, the source added.
The protesters are calling on the Egyptian government to open the Rafah crossing three months after it was closed, pushing the number of stranded Palestinians to around 5,000.
Earlier Saturday, authorities made an exception in opening the crossing to allow a South African delegate to pass into Gaza.
The emergency was declared just days after four Palestinians died and six were injured in an explosion in a tunnel leading from Egypt into the Gaza Strip. Gaza authorities accused Egypt of detonating the tunnel on its Egyptian side. One report claimed the Egyptians not only demolished the tunnel, but filled it with toxic gas, asphyxiating the four victims. Another report attributed the asphyxiation to smoke from the blast.
According to Cairo reports , the Egyptian security forces are seeking to prevent the infiltration of Hezbollah militants into Egypt via Sinai, in the wake of harsh sentences handed down to 26 convicted members of what has become known as the “Hezbollah Egypt group.” There are fears Lebanon’s Hezbollah militants might launch revenge attacks against Egyptian targets.