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U.S./World News

Egypt opens border with Gaza after 2-month closure
December 21, 2014 11:56 GMT

Eds: Updates with Egypt opening Gaza crossing; changes dateline; adds byline.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- A Palestinian border official says Egypt has opened its border crossing with the Gaza Strip for the first time in two months, offering temporary relief to Palestinians seeking to leave the coastal enclave.

Maher Abu Sabha, the Gaza official in charge on the Gaza side, says the Rafah crossing is only to remain open for two days.

It's the main gateway to the outside world for Gaza's 1.7 million residents. Egypt had kept the border closed since an Oct. 24 attack in the Sinai Peninsula that killed 31 Egyptian soldiers.

About 250 Palestinians as well as ambulances with medical patients crossed into Egypt on Sunday.

Border closures have been common since the Islamic group Hamas seized Gaza in 2007. Israel keeps its border crossing with Gaza mostly sealed.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Palestinians hurling stones at Jewish settlers' cars in the West Bank lightly injured a 4-year-old Israeli boy on Sunday, the Israeli military said.

The incident took place at an intersection in a settlement area near the West Bank city of Bethlehem. The boy was taken to hospital, and Israeli troops afterward combed the area for suspects behind the attack, the military said.

Earlier in the day, Israeli police arrested five Israelis suspected of planning to attack Palestinians in Jerusalem.

The five, including four minors, had collected rocks in a Jerusalem park and were caught carrying two knives, said police spokeswoman Luba Samri. She added that they previously participated in activities of the extremist Jewish group Lehava, which is opposed to Arab-Jewish coexistence.

In a separate development Sunday, Israeli police took four Lehava activists into custody, part of a recent clampdown on the fringe organization which has become a symbol of rising anti-Arab sentiment in Israel.

The arrests took place in five different cities throughout Israel, Samri said. Four additional Lehava activists were detained and then released.

The arrests came as Israelis celebrate the weeklong Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

Last week, police arrested 10 Lehava members, including its leader, on suspicion of racist incitement and calls to violence. The group has sought to break up Arab-Jewish couples and has waged campaigns to prevent Jews and Arabs from working together.

Also, three Lehava members were indicted last week on charges of torching a bilingual Hebrew-Arabic school in Jerusalem last month.

 
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