U.S. 'Confident' Egypt Can Provide Good Security at Rafah Border

Egypt opens border crossing with the Gaza Strip; Hamas hails the move, saying it will make life easier for ordinary Gazans.

The United States Thursday said it was confident that Egypt would provide adequate gate-keeping at the Rafah border crossing to Gaza when it broadens access this weekend.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the U.S. had some concerns about the move to open the crossing to more people, but added the Egyptians were "well aware" of them - and of the need to screen out contraband weapons from Gaza.

Palestinians waiting to cross border - AP

"We obviously support efforts to meet the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people in Gaza, but those efforts should also ensure that the transfer of weapons or other material or financial support for terrorism is blocked," Toner told reporters.

"We also believe that the Egyptians are fully aware of and capable of providing that kind of security," he said.

Hamas, the militant group that administers Gaza, was jubilant Thursday about Egypt's move to permanently open the border, saying it would make life easier for ordinary Gazans.

But Israel, which first imposed a blockade on Gaza five years ago after rocket and mortar fire from the strip, rained on its southern communities and after the hostage-taking of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, was apprehensive. The soldier has been held captive by Hamas for more than five years.

Rafah had already been open five days a week, but passage was allowed only to students, foreign passport holders and patients on a "very limited basis."