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January 23, 2008

Gazans Invade Egypt, For Cigarettes

After several days of an Israeli border closure, Gazans blew up a wall in Rafah separating the Gaza Strip from Egypt. Thousands of Palestinians flooded into Egypt, returning with small quantities of fuel, cigarettes, and cash:

Tens of thousands of Palestinians poured from the Gaza Strip into Egypt Wednesday after masked gunmen with explosives destroyed most of the seven-mile wall dividing the border town of Rafah.

The Gazans crossed on foot, in cars or riding donkey carts to buy supplies made scarce by an Israeli blockade of their impoverished territory. Police from the militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, directed the traffic. Egyptian border guards took no action.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said Israel has no forces on the Gaza-Egypt border and, "therefore it is the responsibility of Egypt to ensure that the border operates properly, according to the signed agreements."

Hamas, which runs Gaza, expressed approval for the action. This seems rather strange, as it clearly shows that the current leadership has performed so poorly that the only means for survival of its population relies on escaping it. It has been Hamas' refusal to end the rocket attacks into Israel which led to the border closures and the interruption of energy supplies into Gaza.

Israel has a reason to be concerned with the Rafah breach. The open border between Gaza and Egypt could easily allow for heavier arms to come into the area. At the moment, the Israelis have no good reason to start another major military engagement in Gaza, but an uptick in weaponry might change that. If the Palestinians bring in better rockets and perhaps even more destructive weapons, the IDF will have to invade to destroy them -- which could wind up getting very bloody indeed.

If Egypt wants to keep that from happening, and to keep Gazans from seeking permanent asylum in the Sinai, then they need to send their army to Rafah and plug the breach quickly. Meanwhile, the Israelis should continue their border closures until Gazans finally get rid of their Hamas leadership and end the rocket attacks from their territory.


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There has been an impressive conspiracy of silence regarding one particular aspect of the situation in Hamastan (Gaza) which may be dissolving of necessity; this conspiracy reeks of hypocrisy and venality but has served the needs of the Palestinians, t... [Read More]

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