The Egyptian foreign ministry on Thursday warned Palestinians against attempts to breach the Gaza Strip border, saying, "whoever breaks the border line will have his legs broken."
The ministry issued this warning two weeks after Palestinian militants blew holes in a section of the barrier wall separating the Gaza Strip from Egypt prompting hundreds of thousands of Gazans to pour across the frontier.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in comments carried by the state-run Middle East News Agency (MENA) on Thursday that Egyptian efforts were continuing with Israel and the European Union to re-open the Rafah border crossing "in a legal way."
Aboul Gheit blasted Hamas for recent fighting with Israel that it called "cartoonish and comical".
He said Hamas rockets that were "lost in the sands of Israel" were simply prompting Israel Defense Forces to strike at Gaza, causing harm to Palestinians.
Aboul Gheit also reiterated his warning to Palestinians not to provoke the Egyptian soldiers positioned on the Gaza Strip border.
Egypt had made the same warning to Hamas on Tuesday, a day after clashes between Palestinians and Egyptian border police erupted.
After allowing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to cross into the Sinai peninsula last month, Egypt on Sunday closed the border to Palestinians seeking entry.
A day later, one person was killed and dozens more wounded in clashes between Egyptian border guards and Palestinian militants. Security sources said several thousand Palestinians in Egypt would be returned to Gaza in organized groups.
Earlier this week, Aboul Gheit also called on Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip in June, to allow Palestinian Authority personnel to oversee the Egypt-Gaza border at Rafah, and warned Gazans not to test Egypt's patience.
Egypt does not want to be seen as aiding the blockade of Gaza but is under U.S. and Israeli pressure to take control. It also fears the spread of Islamist influence in Egypt.
The Rafah crossing was run by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' forces under EU supervision, with Israeli security agents vetting travelers via video link.
Egypt shut down its side of the terminal after Hamas's violent takeover of Gaza last June. Hamas wants to participate in supervising the crossing, but Abbas has rejcted their demand.
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