Lebanon Demonstrators Hurl Stones at Egypt Embassy Over Planned Gaza Barrier

Meshal in Damascus: Egypt must stop barrier construction, will only further isolate Strip.

At least three people were injured Saturday when Lebanese police clashed with stone-throwing demonstrators protesting against Egypt's decision to build a wall with Gaza to cut tunnel smuggling.

Witnesses said riot police clashed with the protesters when they tried to push against a barbed wire placed on a road leading to the Egyptian embassy.

The protestors started throwing stones and lemons. In response the police to fire tear gas bombs to disperse the protestors.

As a result three people were slightly hurt, police said.

Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade on Gaza, which has been ruled by Hamas since it won in 2007 a brief civil war against supporters of Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas's more secular Fatah faction.

According to various reports, Egypt began last month to build a deep metal wall along its border. When it is finished the wall will be 10-11km long and will extend 18 metres below the surface.

Unconfirmed reports have also indicated that American army engineers are helping the Egyptians to build the wall, and it will take 18 months to be completed.

On Friday, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, addressing a rally in the Syrian capital to mark the end of the Israeli attack on Gaza a year ago, dencounced Egypt's plan tob build an underground barrier along its Gaza border, saying that "triumphant Gaza today is still wounded. Its houses are still destroyed. It's still under siege and its borders are still closed. Add to this the new steel wall."

The Hamas leader also said that the organiztion would not recognize Israel despite new pressures on the group and will give priority to building resistance to the Jewish state.

Meshal said Hamas does not want another war with Israel but it will stick to armed struggle as a means to liberate occupied land.

"Today we do not seek war but if war is imposed on us we will fight fiercely," Meshal said.

"Hamas will keep rejecting the occupation and refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the Zionist entity. Priority will remain building and developing the resistance," said Meshal, who lives in Syria along with other Hamas leaders in exile.

"Pressure, siege, temptations and opening doors or communication channels will not fool Hamas, which will not compromise on the rights. Hamas will be only tempted by restoring the land," Meshal said.

Meshal was referring to increased contacts between Hamas and Western delegations since the Gaza war, including a meeting with a U.S. group that included Jack Matlock, a former American ambassador in Moscow.

Israel said it attacked Gaza to end rocket launches by Hamas fighters into Israel. The invasion killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians. Thirteen Israelis were killed.

Hamas, which is backed by Syria and Iran, last week urged Palestinian groups in Gaza allied to it to observe what amounted to a ceasefire that ended the Israeli attack on the strip a year ago after its allies fired rockets into Israel and Israeli air strikes killed several Palestinians.

Hamas also opposes Abbas's approach to peace with Israel, although Abbas broke off peace talks with Israel during the Israeli invasion of Gaza and a U.S. drive to resume the talks since has failed.

Meshal said reconciliation with Abbas was needed to strengthen the Palestinian cause but he made no new proposals on how to do so after Egyptian efforts to bring about agreement between the two sides foundered.

Islamists founded Hamas in the 1980s. The group refuses to recognize Israel in defiance of international demands.

Hamas has offered Israel a decades-long truce if Israel withdraws from the Palestinian territories it occupied in the 1967 Middle East War and recognized what Hamas considers as the Palestinian refugees right of return.