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Egyptian security forces have detained 3,000 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip
Egyptian security forces have detained 3,000 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who tried to make their way to Cairo and other Egyptian provinces from the Sinai Peninsula, the Al-Ahram paper said Monday.

The newspaper quoted a police source as saying that the detained either had no passports or no entry visas. In addition, a number of people of Palestinian origin in possession of firearms or explosives had been detained in different parts of the country.

Thousands of Palestinians made their way from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip into Egypt on January 23 after militants partially destroyed a wall on the Gaza-Egypt border, as Israel's blockade of Gaza entered its sixth day. A decision to impose a blockade was taken following almost daily rocket attacks from the enclave on Israeli border regions.

According to preliminary figures, up to 500,000 Palestinians have inundated the three border cities of Rafah, El-Arish and Sheikh Zayed.

"It is unbelievable. There are Palestinians everywhere. They are pushing and shoving to buy food, medicines, cement and fuel," the newspaper quotes a resident of El-Arish as saying. "The stores are practically empty; despite the fact that most of the merchants have abused the situation by doubling and tripling prices."

Egyptian authorities allowed Palestinians free access to these cities to buy food, fuel and other commodities. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he gave his personal permission for Palestinians to enter the country to buy food, as Gaza residents should not be left to starve due to Israel's blockade.

Egyptian authorities are taking measures to ensure that Palestinians who entered the country from Gaza are unable to reach Cairo or other major cities. Palestinians are not allowed to leave the Sinai Peninsula without the appropriate documents. The whole area has been tightly cordoned off by additional security patrols to prevent Palestinians from entering the neighboring provinces of Port Said, Ismailia and Suez.

The Suez Canal Bridge, also known as the Mubarak Peace Bridge, which leads to the capital Cairo, has also been closed.

Additional supplies of food and fuel have been organized in the area to prevent a humanitarian crisis.


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