Accompanying President Hosni Mubarak on his visit to the United Arab Emirates Tuesday, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said that securing Egypt’s borders–whether by building border walls or by installing subterranean detection devices–constituted a "national security" priority and a "state secret."
Replying to questions about Egypt’s construction of a separation barrier along its border with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, Abul Gheit claimed the wall had been there "for years" but was destroyed when Palestinians from the strip stormed the border early last year.
"The border must be respected," he said. "Anyone who doesn’t respect it will be considered a transgressor on Egypt’s sovereignty."
"There have been past attempts at infiltration from the Gaza Strip into Sinai," The FM added. "We cannot allow that."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki denied that the wall was intended to contain Palestinian resistance group Hamas.
Hamas officials, for their part, have called construction of the wall a "war crime," saying that the barrier would serve to complete the longstanding siege of the Gaza Strip’s 1.5 million Palestinians residents.
In a related development, MP Mohamed el-Omda filed a lawsuit against the president and prime minister calling for the wall to be demolished. "This wall," said el-Omda, "reveals the true face of the Egyptian regime."
Meanwhile, Palestinian MP Ahmed Bahr called for an emergency parliamentary session Tuesday to discuss possible repercussions of the wall’s construction, which he described as "a catastrophe."
Translated from the Arabic Edition.