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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Egypt opens Rafah crossing

Shavua tov, a good week to everyone.

Remember the last time that Egypt opened its border for all those poor 'starving' Gazans?

Well, this time, the Egyptians are being much more careful about what kind of pictures are being released. No more riots at the border. Instead, we are seeing pictures of nice quiet people sitting on a bus (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).

Hundreds of Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip arrived here by the busload on Saturday to pass through the reopened border into Egypt, taking the first tangible steps out of a four-year Israeli blockade.
Can someone please explain to me if this is an 'Israeli blockade,' how can the Egyptians be the ones releasing it? Maybe it was also an Egyptian blockade....
“I feel this is the start of freedom,” said Hasna el-Ryes, 45, a Gaza resident waiting to cross into Egypt so she could travel to visit sons studying in Britain. “You can’t imagine how much we have suffered.”
Maybe she won't come back. Maybe a lot of other Gazans won't come back. Wouldn't that be cool? Of course, there is a major down side:
Israel issued no statements on Saturday in response to the border opening, but its officials have made clear that they consider the looser controls a major security risk. It began its blockade of Gaza four years ago to keep Hamas, which consolidated control in Gaza after winning elections, from being resupplied with rockets and other weapons to use against Israelis.
Actually, the blockade was originally to keep Hamas from moving Gilad Shalit out of Gaza, and then tightened when Hamas took power. But at least the Egyptians haven't opened the border completely - they're not total fools either.
And the formal, seven-days-a-week opening on Saturday did not remove all restrictions. It left in place a blockade on the shipment into Gaza of goods, including concrete that is badly needed to repair buildings damaged in clashes with Israel. “This is good, but we are looking for Egypt to break the siege, to allow the shipment of cement and trade,” said Gamal el-Din, a Palestinian engineer entering Egypt.

Egyptian officials have said they hope to soon open the border to at least some goods. There are still restrictions on passengers as well. Although women, children and older Palestinians can enter without a visa, men from 18 to 40 are required to obtain one, for security reasons.
And I'm sure you'll all be shocked to hear that a lot more people want to go to Egypt than want to go to Gaza.
While the terminal holding Egyptians entering Gaza remained almost empty for most of the day, a steady stream of Gazans kept flowing the other way. Aish el-Meleit, a 55-year-old farmer, said he had come for a chance to visit an ailing aunt in Egypt; he had missed the deaths and funerals of both his parents because of the blockade [Maybe he belongs in Egypt? CiJ].

By early afternoon, six buses, each carrying about 50 travelers, had dropped their passengers on [should be "from." CiJ] the Palestinian side, the police said. Only two people had been returned from the Egyptian side, compared with nearly 40 on a typical day last week.
Arutz Sheva adds some more proof that the Egyptians are not complete fools (Hat Tip: NY Nana):
With that, Egypt prevented 23 Gaza Arabs from entering Sinai, as they were on a “no-cross” list, prevented from entering Egypt because of their connections to criminal or terrorist groups.

Two medical teams were stationed at the crossing, one to examine Gaza Arabs who claim to be seeking medical treatment in Israel, and a second to examine others to ensure they are not carrying communicable diseases.
But they did violate the peace treaty with Israel by opening the crossing.
It should be noted that the opening of the Rafiah crossing is a violation of previous Egyptian agreements with Israel. According to the agreements, Egypt is supposed to consult with Israel on the opening of the Rafiah crossing, and European Union officials are supposed to be present to ensure that no weapons or materials that could be used to build bombs and missiles are brought from Sinai into Gaza. In addition, Israeli troops are supposed to be able to observe the activity at the crossing via closed-circuit TV. None of these elements were included in the Egyptian move. Speaking to reporters, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said that Israel “will obviously be looking to preserve security arrangements at the border and hope nothing will be done to allow Hamas to empower itself and to reinforce its terrorist infrastructures. The Israeli position has been made known to all relevant authorities, including in Egypt.”
I'd bet on that flotilla showing up next month anyway.

What could go wrong?

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At 7:08 AM, Blogger Lois Koenig said...

Thanks for the hat tip, Carl.

Poor widdle Gazans..boo, hoo! I just pray that Israel will not be harmed...this is not the best news.


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