Worsening conditions in Gaza

The World

The 25-foot high steel wall that was blown down today was built by Israel along the border between Gaza and Egypt in 2002. That’s whne Israel was still trying to occupy the Gaza Strip. In 2005 Israel turned around and pulled out all of its ground troops though it retained control of all land, air, and sea access to the strip. America and the European Union brokered a deal to open the Rafah border but since the Hamas takeover last June the crossing has been shut and patrolled. Now Egypt’s own peace treaty with Israel obliges them to seal the border back up, according to this Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, �We expect the Egyptians to make sure that the border there with Gaza is properly operating according to the agreement with Israel. How they do it or what they do it, they know what they signed.� QL �Now you’re saying that Israel has pulled out of Gaza yet you’re insisting that Gaza’s border with Egypt cannot be opened?� The spokesman, �once we got out of Gaza, we’re out of there, you can’t expect us to be responsible for everything that’s going on there when we’re not even there.� Many international bodies disagree. They still consider Israel to be an occupying power in Gaza, they see the opening of Gaza to Egypt as one step towards passing off responsibility for the strip. This woman heads the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Jerusalem, �What’s happening in Gaza is a disengagement from the Gaza Strip by the Israeli authorities. So they want to leave the Gaza Strip as much as possible, and if there was trade with Egypt or goods coming in through Egypt then it would be easier for Israel to close down some of the other crossings between Israel and Gaza.� But today’s scene of free movement at the border is hardly what Israel had in mind. Hamas in the past used tunnels under the Rafah crossing to bring in guns and cash, it’s safe to assume that plenty of both crossed the border today. Egyptian President Hozni Mubarak said that he had allowed the border traffic because of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. But Mubarak isn’t comfortable having an open border with Gaza either says this man, editor of a London based Arabic newspaper, �We know there are weapons in Gaza. The Egyptian government are extremely worried because of this anarchy at the border, but at the same time they cannot actually face a popular unrest inside Egypt if they continue to listen to the American and Israeli pressure.� Mubarak hardly wants to shore up Hamas which has links with his domestic enemies, the Muslim Brotherhood. But pressure from the Egyptian street will give Mubarak pause before he sends troops up to the Rafah crossing to rebuild Israel’s iron wall.

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