Egypt Opens Gaza's Rafah Crossing


Blockade ends as Egyptian authorities open Rafah Crossing permanently after four years.


By: DAVID SHEAR  
Published: May 28th 2011
in News » World


Rafah Border Sign

After four years of Gaza blockade, Egyptian authorities have opened up the Rafah Crossing permanently on Saturday morning.

 

Currently the Rafah Crossing is only open for the movement of people. Palestinians have requested that authorities in Cairo also allow the movement of goods, not just humanitarian aid. Israeli defense officials said, based on messages received from Egypt, there is no indication of any plans to open the crossing to further goods.

 

The crossing will remain open for only a few hours a day. However, those who want to cross the border on off hours can still use the means which were available before, such as underground tunnels.

 

With the limited use of the crossing, the opening can be seen as more symbolic than utilitarian. However, the refusal of any international observers at the border by Egypt and the Palestinians should be worrisome.

 

“The Palestinian side has not received until now a demand from the Egyptian side; we prefer the crossing to be an Egyptian-Palestinian affair only,” said Hamas’ Deputy Foreign Minister Razzi Hamed.

 

This arrangement is the same as was in the past before the blockade. Hamed argues that the two parties can provide sufficient security without outside inspectors.

 

“The Palestinian government monitored the crossing successfully and in a professional, legal manner in line with the rules customary at global land crossings,” he said.

 

However, unlike the past, this time the Egyptians are not providing a massive deployment of local security forces, and the relationship between the Egyptians, Palestinians and Israelis has changed dramatically.

 

The Egyptians have set a protocol whereas men between the ages of 18-40 would need to coordinate going through the crossing, but women and children would be exempt from visas.



Related articles: (Egypt, Gaza, Rafah Border, Blockade, )




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