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    » 05/28/2011, 00.00


    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

    24/01/2008 EGYPT – ISRAEL – PALESTINE
    Egypt blocks Palestinian ‘exodus’ in Rafah
    Since yesterday Egypt’s border police has allowed some 350,000 Gazans to reach Rafah driven by the need to buy food and fuel. Ordered by Egyptian President Mubarack, police is today stopping cars and people illegally coming through the breaks in the border wall. In Israel the country’s High Court is asked to hear a petition presented by some associations who want the blockade lifted.

    03/12/2008 EGYPT - PALESTINE
    Hamas: no pilgrimage to Mecca for faithful of Gaza Strip
    Their offense is that they asked for permission to leave from the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, controlled by Fatah. An internal power struggle is affecting the Muslims, and is judged as "an abominable crime" by the highest Sunni authority in Egypt. The news is raising ironic comments from Israeli newspapers.

    18/06/2007 PALESTINE - ISRAEL
    Hamas’ isolation, a chance for peace with Israel
    While there’s the risk of increased terrorism with the fundamentalist group’s victory in Gaza, there is also a possibility, if more weight is given to the PLO, for peace in the Middle East. It is urgent that Israel, the PLO and Arab countries begin peace talks.

    02/02/2010 PALESTINE-ISRAEL
    In Gaza, people favour peace with Israel and criticize Hamas government
    The outcome of a survey. Overcome the division among Palestinians a priority, more than the rebuilding of what has been destroyed by the Israelis. "Terrible" economic situation, deteriorated under the government of the Islamic movement, whose leaders would receive few votes should they participate in presidential elections. But the ban on men and women together on a motorcycle finds consensus.

    01/02/2008 PALESTINE - ISRAEL
    The Gaza border is under control, while Egypt is pushing Hamas and Abbas to dialogue
    Cairo hopes to restore the Palestinian Authority as the guarantee of security in Gaza. But dialogue between Abbas and Meshal is still difficult. Human Rights Watch accuses Israel and the international community of creating a "humanitarian crisis" in the Gaza Strip.

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