Friday, 1 February 2008

Gaza—New reality

Al-Ahram on the new realities along Egypt's border with Gaza:

After close to nine days of unchecked inundation of close to 700,000 of the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza into the border city of Rafah and its immediate neighbour Arish, quiet is again in place. And within the next 48 to 72 hours, Egyptian officials predict, the whole border would have been cordoned off again.

However, what is unlikely to be in place again is the full siege that Israel has aimed—against little if any world protest—to squeeze Gaza through.

While American and Israeli officials have been demanding that Egypt seals its borders and leave Gaza to its fate, Egyptian officials say it has become impossible to maintain this policy.

"The Israelis and Americans can say all they want. But they know that Egypt has to act upon its interests," said an Egyptian official who asked for anonymity. And, he explained, it is certainly not in the interest of Egypt to ignore the fact that if the Rafah crossing point was to be completely sealed off again under continued Israeli siege another breach will occur.

"It will be a matter of time before the Palestinians break into Rafah again. This is a scenario we dread so much. We would rather work to secure a prompt and internationally accepted mechanism for the operation of the Rafah crossing point."

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