Egypt closes Rafah border crossing to Gaza after Israel-Hamas escalation


Egypt is to close the Rafah crossing on its border with the Gaza Strip until further notice on Monday, Egyptian security sources said.

Hamas, the Palestinian faction that controls Gaza, said it had been informed by Egypt of the decision to shut the crossing in both directions, without giving details.

According to two Egyptian security sources, the closure was made for security reasons following an escalation on Saturday between Israel and Hamas, with Israeli aircraft striking sites in Gaza after gunfire across Gaza’s border with Israel earlier in the day.

The latest escalation saw an Israeli Border policeman, 21-year-old St.-Sgt. Bar-el Shmueli, seriously wounded after being shot at the border. 

21-year-old St.-Sgt. Bar-el Shmueli from Beer Yaakov, shot by a Palestinian militant during Gaza border riots (credit: BORDER POLICE)

Shmueli was shot by a Palestinian who had been able to approach the perimeter fence and fire a handgun into Shmueli’s firing position.

The attack was seen in a video shared on social media where dozens of Palestinians gathered along the fence near Shmueli’s position. One was seen trying to snatch his weapon; although the Palestinian managed to grab the barrel, Shmueli managed to pull it back.

“The soldier fought back and prevented the gun in his hands from being taken away,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said.

In another video of the same incident, Palestinians are then seen throwing objects and hitting the barrel of the weapon, and then one rioter is seen approaching Shmueli’s position and firing a handgun into it.
The IDF opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Rafah is the sole crossing between Egypt and Gaza, where an Israeli-led blockade has placed severe restrictions on the movement of goods and people for years.

Egypt had opened the crossing indefinitely in February in what was described as an effort to encourage negotiations between Palestinian factions meeting at the time in Cairo.

Egypt kept the crossing open during and after an 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in May, delivering aid and construction materials through Rafah after helping broker a truce between the two sides.

Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.