hamas blamed for not letting wounded get aid

RAFAH - Egypt yesterday blamed Hamas for not letting hundreds of Palestinians wounded by Israeli air strikes leave the Gaza Strip for treatment, with dozens of empty ambulances waiting on the border.

RAFAH - Egypt yesterday blamed Hamas for not letting hundreds of Palestinians wounded by Israeli air strikes leave the Gaza Strip for treatment, with dozens of empty ambulances waiting on the border.

More than 270 Palestinians have been killed and 600 wounded since Israel began hammering the Gaza Strip with air strikes on Saturday, but no wounded have yet left via Rafah, the Hamas-ruled territory's only Arab border crossing.

"No one has come in. We don't know why they're closed on the other side," a senior border security official told AFP.

Several plane and truck-loads of aid are also waiting to be allowed into the Gaza Strip, a security official said.

"The wounded are barred from crossing into Egypt," foreign minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said in Cairo, blaming "those who control Gaza".

In the divided town of Rafah the road leading to the border crossing was lined with 20 riot police vehicles, 40 ambulances and several pick-ups full of medicine waiting to cross into Gaza.

"We are preparing a list of casualties. There are just so many dead and injured," Mouneer al-Borsh of the Hamas-run health ministry told AFP.

He had arrived at the border with a ministry truck and was waiting to take medical supplies into Gaza. Asked when the wounded would arrive at the border, Al-Borsh said: "I can't say."

Gaza has been crippled by an Israeli blockade of all but the most essential supplies, with even basic medicines lacking in the impoverished territory.

A security official said that an Egyptian plane with 50 doctors on board as well as medical supplies had arrived in nearby El-Arish. Two Qatari aircraft carrying 50 tons of medical supplies were also waiting at the same airport.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has also ordered three plane-loads of medical aid to the Gaza Strip via Egypt.

"The Rafah border crossing was opened by the Egyptians yesterday but no Hamas people showed up on the other side," an Israeli military spokesman said. - Sapa-AFP

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