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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Joy As Egypt Opens Gaza Border Crossing

Palestinians are delighted. Egypt's opening of the Rafah crossing, its border with the Gaza Strip, is literally the opening of the prison doors on the enclave after a four-year sentence. 

The move has created deep unease in Israel.
More than 1.4 million people have relied on food aid handouts from the UN, limited supplies through Israel, and goods smuggled under the crossing to survive an Israeli blockade which was imposed when Hamas drove the Palestinian Authority from power in Gaza in 2007.
The blockade was largely a reprisal for attacks on neighbouring Israeli towns by Hamas, and other Islamist groups, using home-made rockets.
The siege had been condemned in the UN, by the International Committee of the Red Cross and by the European Union.
Human rights groups argued that it was a massive example of collective punishment.
A Hamas policeman checks the passport of a Palestinian passenger at the Rafah border crossing
A Hamas policeman checks the passport of a Palestinian passenger
The first vehicles to cross into Egypt were ambulances taking patients for much-needed treatment to Cairo.
Soon, ordinary citizens began to flow across the border, although men between 18 and 40 will need a visa to enterEgypt, after undergoing a security check to ensure that they don't have links to terrorist groups.
Trade will not yet be allowed through the crossing - that will have to continue through the dozens of illegal tunnels dug to move weapons, food and people between Gaza and Egypt.
Israel will continue to have a stranglehold on what goods go in and out of Gaza - a grip, it says, is essential to prevent the importation of the raw materials for rockets.
But the opening of the crossing has a powerful political force behind it which, in the long term, may cause Israel more problems than Gaza's rocketeers.
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak agreed to join Israel's siege of Gaza to prevent the growth of Hamas power in a move the new Egyptian foreign minister told al Jazeera, was a "disgusting matter".
Smoke billows from a targeted location inside the northern Gaza Strip on December 29,2008
Israel accuses Gaza residents of being behind rocket attacks
With the ousting of Mubarak, Egypt's new military council has bowed to public pressure to get more closely involved with the Palestinian cause.
First Cairo mediated a unity agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority after five years of open conflict.
Then came the opening of Gaza's border.
"This new Cairo spring is bearing fruit such as the Rafah opening and efforts to end the blockade," said Nabil Shaath, a senior Palestinian official.
Small wonder that the Jewish state's home front defence minister Matan Vilnai told Israeli public radio that the ending of the siege is a "a very problematic situation".
Much like the so-called Arab awakening itself.
The Arab street in countries with peace agreements with Israel, like Jordan and Egypt, has been inflamed by coverage of Israel's siege and its attacks inside Gaza, in which 1,400 Palestinians have been killed.
The street does not appear to understand the economic and strategic advantage of peace deals struck between Israel and Arab autocrats.
But across the Middle East it is on the streets where the agenda is being set.
Meanwhile, the Arab League announced it will seek full UN membership for a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
It said in a statement it would make the request at the UN General Assembly's meeting in New York in September.


  1. I think that would be bad for the israelis.

  2. Nice post, who knows what going to happen next hey :P

  3. It looks like maybe Egypt is changing for the better ey?


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