Palestinian militia used a series of explosions overnight to blow about a 200 meter hole in the wall between Gaza and Egypt. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have poured into Egypt as a result, to stock up on food and fuel in short supply due to an Israeli blockade. Egyptian riot police sent to reinforce the border mainly stood aside and let the Palestinians through, witnesses said.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said that he had ordered his troops to allow the Palestinians to cross into Egypt from the Gaza Strip because they were starving.
After the explosions, a Palestinian bulldozer was demolishing large parts of the wall, and is still working to demolish the rest of it, Egyptian authorities have reported.
Freedom is good. We need no border after today," said unemployed 29-year-old Mohammed Abu Ghazal.
Hamas did not take responsibility for knocking down the border wall, but their leader indicated that Hamas was willing to work out a new border arrangement with Egypt and Hamas' rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. This suggests that Hamas wants to put Abbas on the spot for his tacit support for the devastating economic blockade on his own people.
An Israeli spokesman said "it is the responsibility of Egypt to ensure that the border operates properly, according to the signed agreements. . . We expect the Egyptians to solve the problem. Obviously we are worried about the situation."
What isn't clear is what Israel is prepared to do, if anything, should the Egyptians refuse to close the border. The current Israeli government is facing severe criticism for its failure, not only in the blockade of Gaza, but for the conflict in Lebanon, where Hezbollah successfully resisted an Israeli assault.
Prior to the destruction of the border wall, Hamas has orchestrated daily demonstrations on the Gaza-Egypt border, in an apparent attempt to appeal to Arab public opinion and pressure Egypt to open the passage.