Riots erupt in airport near Egypt-Gaza border

About 100 Palestinians smashed doors and windows inside an airport building in this Egypt-Gaza Strip border town early Tuesday after being trapped there for more than a month since the border’s closure, police and one of the rioters said.Dozens of anti-riot police with batons and shields stormed El Arish Airport and clashed with rioters, injuring two of them, one of the rioters, Mohammad Ali, told the Associated Press.

A police official said that more troops have been deployed to the airport after Tuesday’s clashes, fearing more riots and violence. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press.

An Associated Press reporter was denied entry into the airport Tuesday but saw dozens of riot police deployed outside the building.

The Palestinians, who do not have entry visas for Egypt, were transferred under security supervision to El Arish Airport after first arriving at the Cairo airport from trips abroad.

They had expected to then travel onward to the Gaza Strip, but they have been stuck in El Arish Airport since Egypt sealed off its border with Gaza after Hamas took over Gaza last month.

The Palestinians, mostly students and government employees, trapped inside the airport have complained of increasingly desperate living conditions.

“We are living in a 100 square metres. There are no services. Water is salty and masses of mosquitoes attack us everynight,” Ali told the AP on the telephone early Tuesday.

“We have lost our minds. We broke the windows, the palm trees [inside the airport], the doors and everything around us in the airport,” he added.

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