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Hamas limits crossings at border with Israel

Hamas said Tuesday it has closed the Erez border crossing due to Israeli shelling, in a move that stranded a group of Palestinians planning to cross for medical treatment.

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: Hamas allowed a group of 25 Palestinians, including those seeking medical treatment, to cross from Gaza into Israel after closing the border crossing earlier on Tuesday. But it declined to let anyone else leave Gaza or enter from Israel, a Palestinian official in charge of coordinating movement at the Erez crossing told AFP.

He said a group of 13 Palestinians with injuries or illnesses were allowed to cross with 12 family members. But no one else was allowed to use the crossing, he added. A Hamas official confirmed the Gaza side of the border had been reopened for limited movement after it was earlier declared closed.

At the time, a Hamas official said no one would be allowed to use the crossing until an international guarantee that it would not be targeted by Israeli shelling. The official said the border was closed for security reasons after the Palestinian side was repeatedly bombed.

A spokesman for COGAT, the Israeli defence ministry unit responsible for the crossing, told AFP the Israeli side remained open.

The Erez crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel is ordinarily open for Palestinians granted rare permission to enter the Jewish state, usually for medical purposes. Earlier in the week, Palestinians holding foreign passports evacuated through the crossing, fleeing an Israeli aerial campaign that has so far killed more than 192 people.

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