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Egypt Leader Defends 'Security Measures' along Gaza Border

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday said the security measures taken by his country along the border with Gaza were not aimed at "harming" Palestinians.

"The measures taken by Egypt to secure its eastern borders are in full coordination with the Palestinian Authority and cannot have the aim of harming our Palestinian brothers in the Gaza Strip," Sisi was quoted as saying in a statement sent by his office.

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Hamas Accuses Egypt of Flooding Gaza Border

Hamas on Thursday accused Egypt of further besieging the Gaza Strip by flooding the border area to the south of the Palestinian enclave, which is already under an Israeli blockade.

Egypt has been carrying out digging work in the area for several weeks that Palestinians believe is intended to flood the last remaining tunnels between Gaza and the Sinai, where jihadist fighters have been battling Egyptian forces.

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HRW Accuses Egypt of 'Mass Home Demolitions' in Sinai

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday accused Egypt's military of having "violated international law" through mass home demolitions and evictions over the past two years along its border with Gaza.

Egypt's army in October created a wide buffer zone in the border town of Rafah in the north of the Sinai Peninsula, where it says tunnels have allowed militants and weapons in from the Palestinian enclave.

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Gaza Rockets Target Southern Israel, Spark Air Raid

Two rockets were fired into southern Israel by Palestinian militants in Gaza on Friday, causing no casualties but triggering a series of Israeli air raids.

No one was hurt in either of the attacks. One of the rockets hit a parked bus in the town of Sderot, while the Israeli army said the second was destroyed by its "Iron Dome" defense system over the town of Ashkelon.

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Gaza Could be 'Uninhabitable' by 2020, U.N. Warns

The Gaza Strip, ravaged by wars and nearly a decade of a grueling Israeli blockade, could become uninhabitable for residents within just five years, the United Nations development agency said Tuesday.

"The social, health and security-related ramifications of the high population density and overcrowding are among the factors that may render Gaza unlivable by 2020," the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) wrote in its annual report.

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Aid Groups Appeal for End to Gaza Blockade

Some 35 aid groups from around the world, including ActionAid and Oxfam, launched a joint call Wednesday to end Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, which is in dire need of reconstruction.

Last summer's devastating war in Gaza caused mass casualties, killing 2,251 Palestinians, including more than 500 children. Seventy-three people were killed on the Israeli side, including 67 soldiers.

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Gaza Strike Shuts First Day of School for more than 200,000

A strike by teachers and personnel in Gaza kept more than 200,000 children from returning to school for the new term Monday, as the U.N. agency that employs them struggles financially.

Several thousand teachers, assistants and administrative personnel protested in front of the headquarters of UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees.

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Almost 80,000 Sign UK Petition for Netanyahu Arrest

Almost 80,000 people had by Monday signed a petition urging the arrest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for war crimes when he visits London next month.

The petition was launched earlier this month by British citizen Damian Moran and is posted on the government's website.

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Hamas Says 'Positive Contacts' with Israel on Gaza Truce

The exiled head of Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, said "positive contacts" have been made towards securing a long-term truce with Israel, in a video posted Friday on an Arab website.

Meshaal's comments posted by pan-Arab news website al-Arabi al-Jadid were the first by a leader of Hamas, which does not recognize Israel, to openly confirm such contacts with the Israelis.

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Hamas: Unknown Assailants Snatch Palestinians in Sinai

Gunmen in Egypt boarded a bus carrying Palestinians from Cairo to Gaza and seized four of the passengers before letting the others continue, Hamas officials in the strip said early Thursday.

Interior ministry spokesman Iyad Bezem said in a statement that the kidnapping took place late Wednesday night in the troubled northern Sinai region as the bus headed for the Rafah border crossing into Gaza.

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