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Sunday, 11 January 2009

Israeli planes fly over Egypt to bomb Gaza: witnesses

Israeli warplanes have been flying over Egyptian territory during their bombing runs along the border between Gaza and Egypt, witnesses said on Sunday.

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The witnesses, who have spent many hours close to the Rafah crossing point between Egypt and Gaza, said they had seen the Israeli planes fly over on several occasions, often at such low altitude that it was clear they were over Egyptian territory.

Israeli planes have been bombing on the Gaza side of the border, within a few hundreds of metres (yards) of Egypt, targeting tunnels which Israel says the Islamist movement Hamas uses for smuggling weapons into Gaza.

The three witnesses, who are not involved in the conflict, said they wanted to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the matter. The Egyptian government has faced a barrage of criticism for cooperating with Israel in the blockade of Gaza over the past six months.

An Israeli military spokesman had no immediate comment. Egyptian Defense Ministry officials either were unavailable or had no comment on the reports, and it was not clear if Israel was giving Egypt any warning of the flights.

Under the peace treaty which Egypt and Israel signed in 1979, Israel has the right to fly combat planes up to the international border, while Egyptian combat planes cannot fly east of a zone which covers roughly the western third of the Sinai peninsula. Reuters