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» 05/28/2011
EGYPT – PALESTINE – ISRAEL
Egypt opens crossing with Gaza, Israel protests
The hitherto-closed Rafah Crossing is now open. It was shut down following Hamas’ takeover of Gaza in 2007. The border post will stay open from 9 am to 9 pm for women, children and men over 40. Israel opposes the move, fearing it might to lead to weapons smuggling into the territory. A rocket was fired overnight from Gaza into southern Israel.

Cairo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Egypt relaxed restrictions at its border with the Gaza Strip, allowing many Palestinians to cross freely for the first time in four years. Women, children and men over 40 are now allowed to pass freely. Men aged between 18 and 40 will still require a permit, and trade is still prohibited. The move, strongly opposed by Israel, comes some three months after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak lost power. Meanwhile, an Israeli military spokesperson said that a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel without causing any casualties or damages.

Among the first to cross the reopened border post were two ambulances ferrying patients from the hitherto-blockaded Gaza Strip for treatment in Egypt as well as a minibus carrying a dozen visitors. About 400 Gazans were reported to be waiting at the crossing. Egypt and Israel closed borders with Gaza when Hamas seized power in 2007.

Israel opposes Egypt’s move, concerned that weapons will be imported into Gaza through the Egyptian frontier, but Egyptian authorities insist they will conduct thorough searches of all those crossing.

For analysts, the decision to ease the border controls is symbolically important, a signal that the new leadership in Egypt is shifting the dynamics of the Middle East. With elections coming up in Egypt, the change in policy is likely to be popular with a public sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. But for Israel, this has meant raising its security level.

The border crossing will be open from 9 am to 9 pm each day, except Fridays and holidays.

The latest move comes a month after Egypt pushed through a unity deal between the two main Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, which rule the West Bank and the Gaza Strip respectively.

Last year, Israel eased restrictions on goods entering Gaza, but severe shortages in the territory remain. However, the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross view the blockade as a violation of international humanitarian law.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military said that rocket was fired into southern Israel overnight. "A rocket fired from Gaza landed last night in the Eshkol region and caused no injuries or damage," a military spokesperson said. If confirmed, it would be the first rocket to have been fired in nearly a month and a half.


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See also
01/24/2008 EGYPT – ISRAEL – PALESTINE
Egypt blocks Palestinian ‘exodus’ in Rafah
12/03/2008 EGYPT - PALESTINE
Hamas: no pilgrimage to Mecca for faithful of Gaza Strip
06/18/2007 PALESTINE - ISRAEL
Hamas’ isolation, a chance for peace with Israel
by Arieh Cohen
02/02/2010 PALESTINE-ISRAEL
In Gaza, people favour peace with Israel and criticize Hamas government
02/01/2008 PALESTINE - ISRAEL
The Gaza border is under control, while Egypt is pushing Hamas and Abbas to dialogue

Editor's choices
EGYPT - ISLAM
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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