Hamas leader: Border control acceptable, wall is not

Leading Hamas officials are voicing criticism of the underground wall Egypt is allegedly building on its border with Sinai.

"Controlling borders between countries is an acceptable measure, but building separation walls is not," said leading Hamas official Mohamed el-Zahhar.

Rumors have circulated over the past two weeks that Egypt is building an underground steel wall to intercept smuggling tunnels between Sinai and the Gaza Strip. The government has said that while construction is taking place along the border, Egypt is not building an underground wall.

El-Zahhar added, "The Egyptian-Palestinian border is a place for family visits and commerce, and the tunnels were built for trade purposes, which Hamas and the Egyptian government have nothing to do with."

El-Zahhar also condemned reports of shooting from Gaza aimed at the Egyptian laborers and equipment working on the border area.

Hamas is currently discussing an Israeli proposal for the release Israeli captive soldier Gilad Shalit, held in Gaza since June 2006, in return for 1000 Palestinian prisoners. The Israeli proposal was delivered Wednesday through a German mediator.

Palestinian sources said Israel is requesting that 97 of the released Palestinian prisoners be confined to the Gaza strip and an additional 20 be sent into exile in Qatar.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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