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Egypt opens sealed Gaza crossing

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Egypt opens sealed Gaza crossing as goodwill gesture before Ramadan

By The Associated Press

Palestinian officials say Egypt has opened its border crossing with the Gaza Strip, allowing hundreds of people to enter and leave the coastal territory.

Egypt has opened the Rafah crossing for two days beginning Saturday.

Thousands of Egyptian citizens had been stuck in Gaza with the border sealed. Egypt closed the crossing last year after militant Muslim group Hamas seized power of the territory.

Palestinian officials say they believe Egypt is opening the crossing as a goodwill gesture before the holy Muslim month of Ramadan which begins next week.

Officials will allow hundreds of Palestinians needing medical treatment to enter Egypt. Palestinians with foreign residency permits can also leave Gaza, while Palestinians who had been stuck in Egypt will be able to return home.

Hamas' interior ministry, eager to demonstrate its ability to control security on the Gaza side of the crossing, did not allow residents to approach the southern passageway on Saturday morning. Palestinians have traditionally crushed at the border crossing, causing chaos while jostling to get to the top of lines to leave Gaza.

People eligible to enter Egypt were told to gather in the southern town of Khan Younis at dawn, where their applications were processed. At least four buses crossed through to the Egyptian side where hundreds of police crowded to ensure security.

Egypt said it opened the crossing as a goodwill gesture for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, which begins next week.

"We thank [Egyptian] President Hosni Mubarak for opening the crossing today, and we hope it the opening days will be extended," said Gaza Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, in a statement to the press.

Over Saturday and Sunday, Egypt will allow Palestinian students enrolled in universities abroad to leave Gaza, along with those with foreign residencies and work visas.

Around 300 Egyptians have stuck in Gaza after they entered the territory after Hamas gunmen breached the border in January. They have been unable to return home for months. Some 400 Palestinians needing medical treatment will also head to Egypt on Sunday, officials said.

Arab force for Gaza may help stop violence

Meanwhile Saturday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that the presence of an Arab force in the Gaza Strip could help stop violence there, and the idea should be taken seriously, Egypt's state news agency MENA reported.

However, Aboul Gheit, whose country is sponsoring unity talks between rival Palestinian factions, stopped short of directly calling for such a force in the Hamas-controlled territory.

"The presence of Arab forces on the ground can help in preventing the fighting and stopping the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Aboul Gheit told Egypt's October magazine, according to excerpts that ran on MENA ahead of the magazine interview, due to be published Sunday.

"The matter has not been studied yet, but it is an attractive idea that deserves to be taken seriously when we consider that Egypt and the Arab League may play a role in this matter," he added.

Aboul Gheit said the issue of an Arab force for Gaza would only be brought up in Palestinian talks after Palestinians achieved unity and following "appropriate study."

Representatives of rival Palestinian groups have been meeting in Cairo in recent days seeking reconciliation, but officials familiar with the talks said agreement looked unlikely.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1016527.html


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شارع النجمة في بيت لحم

Too bad what happened to a once thriving VJ but hardly a surprise

al Nakba 1948-2015
66 years of forced exile and dispossession


Copyright © 2015 by PalestineMyHeart. Original essays, comments by and personal photographs taken by PalestineMyHeart are the exclusive intellectual property of PalestineMyHeart and may not be reused, reposted, or republished anywhere in any manner without express written permission from PalestineMyHeart.

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Out of curiosity, what happened for Egypt to close the border besides disliking the politics of Hamas? Was that it? Or was there more to it than that?

<-------------- Julianna, who doesn't pay much attention to Egyptian politics :blush:


None of my posts have ever been helpful. Be forewarned.

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Out of curiosity, what happened for Egypt to close the border besides disliking the politics of Hamas? Was that it? Or was there more to it than that?

<-------------- Julianna, who doesn't pay much attention to Egyptian politics :blush:

It's not all about Egypt, although Egypt plays a part in it. Things went like this:

Israel had control of Gaza since it siezed the territory in 1967, and regulated all borders including the Rafah crossing to Egypt.

In 2005, Israel conducted its "disengagement," removing its settlers and withdrawing its army from the Gaza strip. But it retained control of the entire Gaza-Israel border, and was opposed to allowing the Palestinian Authority (controlled by Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party) to regulate the Gaza-Egypt border without outside control. So an agreement was made to station E.U. monitors at Rafah, along with an Israeli electronic surveillance system, to supervise the Palestinian Authority and Egyptian security forces as they operated the border control.

Then came the elections of January 2005.

Despite warnings from his own advisors, the Israelis, AND Mahmoud Abbas, George Bush insisted that Palestinian elections take place on time and publicly encouraged Hamas to participate. The elections were internationally-observed, free and democratic. The predicitions of all experts were right on taget -- Hamas swept to power in an unprecedented landslide and became the majority party in the Palestinian government.

After a stunned pause, the Bush administration shifted its policy into reverse, and along with Israel began to stidently denounce the election. The U.S. began exerting pressure on Fatah (through economic and politcal threats and bribes) to declare the elections void. Israel then launched a raid throughout the West Bank, kidnapping more than 60 elected Hamas legislators. Abbas caved to the pressure and declared the elected Palestinian government dissolved (well, except for members of his own Fatah and other allies.)

As the chaos grew, the E.U. monitors left, and Israel insisted that the Rafah border remain closed until they returned. But they have not returned, and the border has been closed ever since.

Hamas regrouped in their main stronghold, Gaza. The U.S. then tried a new tactic -- it sent covert funds and arms to back a coup attempt at Hamas led by Fatah's strongman in Gaza, Mohammed Dahlan. But the coup failed miserably -- there was a bloody fight, and Hamas ran Dahlan and his goons out of Gaza.

(This turn of events seemed to make the U.S. and Israel even more upset, but it may have been the plan all along since all experts predicted the outcome well in advance.)

Hamas was now in firm control of the Strip, and Fatah was in control of the West Bank.

Israel then sealed the Gaza territory, placed it under blockade, and began a series of military assaults in an effort to crush Hamas. Almost nothing and no one have been permitted to enter or exit Gaza since. The U.S. has shielded Israel from U.N. sanctions for collective punishment of the people of Gaza.

As for Egypt's role in all this -- well, the president of Egypt is not too keen on Hamas as he sees its popularity in Gaza as encouraging his own political enemy in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood. And he is completely dependant on the $2 billion a year in aid he gets from the U.S., which places him under extreme pressure to implement U.S./Israeli policies.

However, Egypt's population is very supportive of the Palestinian cause and wants Egypt to do something to allieviate their suffering of the civilians in Gaza. So there has been internal pressure on the Egyptian government to try to find a solution to the problem. That's why Egypt permitted Hamas to breach the security wall for almost 2 weeks in January -- to let thousands of desperate Gazans buy emergency supplies in Egypt. And that's why they are opening the border for Ramadan. Egypt has also been moderating talks between Hamas and Fatah since the crisis of 2005, looking for a solution.

But Mubarak is between a rock and a hard place, as is Abbas -- between the money and pressure of the U.S./Israel, and the demands of their own population. When political agendas conflict with the will of masses of the people who are affected by those agendas, well... you know what happens next.

But Israel will definitely not be at all happy about the border being open, so we'll see how long it lasts.


6y04dk.jpg
شارع النجمة في بيت لحم

Too bad what happened to a once thriving VJ but hardly a surprise

al Nakba 1948-2015
66 years of forced exile and dispossession


Copyright © 2015 by PalestineMyHeart. Original essays, comments by and personal photographs taken by PalestineMyHeart are the exclusive intellectual property of PalestineMyHeart and may not be reused, reposted, or republished anywhere in any manner without express written permission from PalestineMyHeart.

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