Egypt on Thursday said it had sent medical and food aid to thousands of Palestinians stranded for over a month in increasingly dire conditions on the border with the Gaza Strip.The much-needed aid was dispatched along with police reinforcements to the frontier town of Rafah amid fears that Palestinians on either side of the concrete border wall could try to break through.
Schools have also been opened up to receive some of the estimated 5Â 000 Palestinians unable to return home since Hamas seized the Gaza Strip on June 15, the official MENA news agency quoted local officials as saying.
Teams of medics have been dispatched to Rafah and to Al-Arish hospital, 50 kilometres to the west, to treat the sick, in particular diabetics, said Health Minister Hatem al-Gabali.
A security source told AFP that police reinforcements had been sent to Rafah and that the road between the border and Al-Arish had been closed to Palestinians trying to approach the border.
North Sinai governor Ahmed Abdel Hamid said he had set aside 180Â 000 Egyptian pounds (about R2Â 000), enough to feed 3Â 000 Palestinians for three days, with the Egyptian Red Crescent promising to provide meals for a further 10 days.
MENA also reported what it said was the third stranded Palestinian to die, a 47-year-old woman who had left the Gaza Strip for cancer treatment in Cairo.
The UN World Food Programme said hundreds of tonnes of food aid remained trapped at the border.
Israel has said that an alternative crossing via the Jewish state should be used, allowing it to control who gets in and out of Gaza.
However, the movement Hamas, which violently ejected rivals from the secular Fatah in June and refuses to recognise Israel, has said it will treat the Israeli crossing as a military target if it is used.
Palestinians on the Gaza side of the border have since demonstrated calling for the reopening of Rafah, the Gaza Strip’s only door to the outside world that does not go via Israel.