( dpa ) - The breaching of the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt was a first step toward ending the Israeli blockade of the salient, a senior Hamas official said Thursday, the day after militants blasted gaps in the border fence.
But Mohamed Faraj al-Ghoul, the head of the Law Committee in the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council, declined to say whether Hamas was responsible for destroying the metal and cement border fence.
Witnesses in the border town of Rafah, however, said they saw militants from Hamas' armed wing planting explosives by the fence and blowing parts of it up.
"Blowing up the fence, which is part of a popular pressure by the residents, against Israel, is a first step toward ending the blockade," al-Ghoul said,
The breaching of the border, he said, "is the beginning of reinforcing the Palestinian-Egyptian sovereignty on the Rafah crossing without any Israeli involvement."
"What is needed now is to rearrange the issue legally without Israel's interference," he added.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians took advantage of the breach Wednesday and crossed into Egypt and tens of thousands of them had returned back to Gaza by midnight. Many said they would return to Egypt so long as the border remained open.