CAIRO, Jul 26, 2010 (IPS) – Almost two months since Egypt announced it would reopen its Rafah border terminal with the Gaza Strip, operation of the crossing remains sorely limited.
“Rafah has only been opened to passengers and some medical supplies,” Hatem el-Buluk, journalist and resident of Al-Arish, located some 40 kilometres west of Rafah, told IPS. “Everything else, including food and construction materials, must enter the strip via Israeli-controlled border crossings.”
On Jun. 1, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced that Rafah — the strip’s only border crossing not shared with Israel — would be opened to humanitarian aid “indefinitely”. The surprise announcement came one day after Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists aboard a ship bringing humanitarian aid to the besieged coastal enclave.
Hitherto, Egypt had refused to open the crossing until Palestinian resistance group Hamas, which has governed the strip since 2007, signed on to a “reconciliation” agreement with the U.S.-backed Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas.