Sunday, February 20, 2011

Egypt/Gaza Border may open permanently

Smuggling tunnel between Gaza and Egypt

On Friday, Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing for the first time since protests began on January 25th. Although this time movement was only allowed from Egypt to Gaza, the Rafah crossing director said:
"Talks are underway to open Rafah crossing permanently after three days."
Make no mistake: the opening of the Gaza-Egypt border is no small side effect of the Egyptian upheaval; Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood have known for years that free passage of people, weapons and supplies from Egypt to Hamas is crucial in Hamas' struggle against Israel. Remember, half of Egyptians support Hamas. And if anyone still thinks Israel is marginal to the Egyptians' quest for 'democracy', you should probably watch this.

The Palestinian embassy in Egypt called to open traffic in both directions for movement involving medical treatment and education. Hamas, also cited the need of "patients to travel for treatement abroad." A Hamas official confirmed negotiations were underway with Egyptian authorities to permanently open the crossing.

In 2005, Israel withdrew thousands of its own citizens from the Gaza Strip and relinquished the territory to the Palestinians. In 2007, the Gaza populace elected Hamas, a terrorist organization, whose mission is the eradication of Israel. Since 2007 Israel has faced daily barrage of rockets throughout its southern region. Israel's strategy towards Hamas has been one of containment, but, according to a recent article in the LA Times, this is about to change.

Recently, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said the following:
"Israel is the big loser in recent events...This is a new era. They should fear."
Why are we not hearing more about this? According to Robert Pastor, a Carter Center advisor who meets often with Hamas leaders, "They are trying to lower their profile...They don't want to provoke additional fears." Zahar backed this up himself, explaining why Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood are not broadcasting their relationship, until events calm down:
"we know the West is listening to every phone call and would try to abuse that information"
Abuse? No. Use to shape non-suicidal foreign policy? Let's hope so.

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