Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gaza-Egypt border now open

On Saturday the border between Egypt and Gaza opened permanently. Some facts:

1. Women and men under the age of 18 and over the age of 40 can leave Gaza for Egypt without a special permit, while others will require a visa.

2. The agreement between Egypt and Hamas to open the border is in violation to the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement, which maintains that Israel must be party to such decisions.

3. Some Israeli military and academic experts are claiming an open border between Gaza and Egypt will potentially take the pressure off Israel to sustain Gaza's needs, and allow emigration from Gaza, relieving the overpopulation there. Most, however, see the move as a clear advancement in Hamas-Egypt relations and the success of Hamas pressure on the Egyptian government. Hamas needs more sophisticated weapons for its crusade against Israel, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is eager to help now that Mubarak is out the way. In fact, in 2007, George Friedman of STRATFOR predicted that Hamas' deadlock in its struggle with Israel requires it to reach out to radical forces in Egypt.

4. Zvika Fogel, the chief of staff of the Southern Command of the IDF during the Second Intifada, has warned that the opening of the Rafah border with Egypt in a dangerous development and that Israel must remain involved in this border. Unchecked, this border could mean free passage for members of groups hostile to Israel such as Al Qaeda and Hezbollah to use Gaza as a launching pad, turning Gaza into a real terrorist state (r"l). Fogel even warned that the opening of the border could enable Hamas to smuggle Gilad Shalit into Sinai (h"v).

5. Meanwhile, the PA is planning to renew a subway line from Northern to Southern Gaza which has been inactive since the 1970's. (Last 2 links are in Hebrew)

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