|A woman carries a sign reading "No to the presence of the occupation at the crossing" as women Hamas supporters demonstrate against the border closure at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, 2 February 2008. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)|
How is Israel able to strangle the Gaza Strip when there is supposed to be an international crossing between Gaza and Egypt not controlled by Israelis?
Certainly, free movement was the promise held out in the comprehensive Agreement on Movement and Access, signed more than two years ago by Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). The first of the six components of this agreement was that there would be a crossing between Gaza and Egypt at Rafah, controlled by the PA and Egypt. At the time, this was hailed as an historic step on the road to a Palestinian state -- for the first time, it was said, Palestinians would have access to the outside world free from Israeli control.
So, how was Israel still able to impose a suffocating blockade on the Strip, home to almost 1.5 million Palestinians, eighty percent of them refugees? After Palestinian forces opened the border wall on 23 January, breaking the siege, many Palestinians blamed Egypt for not doing the same much earlier to relieve the suffering and deprivation that had brought Gaza to within days of running out of food and medicine. But however complicit Egypt may have been it was not alone.
Continued . . .