( dpa ) - Egyptian authorities on Saturday forced the shutdown of all stores, markets and gas stations in al-Arish city in the northern Sinai in a bid to pressure the Palestinians to return to Gaza, eyewitnesses and security sources said.
Security sources have imposed a curfew, trying to prevent people from walking in the streets, sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
"Streets in al-Arish are completely empty of Egyptians. Only Palestinians are wandering around searching for open shops to buy from," sources said.
Egyptian security forces in full riot gear deployed along the border with Gaza on Friday in an attempt to restore order after two days of anarchy that saw hundreds of thousands of Palestinians cross over freely and stock up on scarce supplies in Egypt.
The deadline to close the Rafah crossing point was earlier announced over megaphones on Egyptian security vehicles driving around al-Arish and the divided border town of Rafah, where many Palestinians had spent the night, either with relatives, on benches or in parks.
Egyptian security forces in full riot gear had deployed Friday along the border in an attempt to restore order after two days of anarchy that saw hundreds of thousands of Palestinians cross over freely and stock up on scarce supplies in Egypt.
But in late Friday afternoon, militants used bulldozers to break another hole in the border fence, and scores of trucks and pedestrians were again seen streaming unhindered into Egypt.
On Saturday, there were reports that thousands of Palestinians continued to cross over the border.