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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
ISLAM - MIDDLE EAST
Al Azhar and Vatican against terrorism. The ambiguity of the international community
by Bernardo CervelleraThe influential Sunni university denounces " heinous" violence of the Islamic state and demands the world defeat this group “through every possible means". Vatican: terrorism is a threat to all humanity. France claims to fight terrorism, but then sells weapons, aircraft, helicopter gunships to Saudi Arabia, which supports Islamic fundamentalism. Kuwait tolerates Salafis who support the Nusra Front and the Islamic state. Turkey against the Kurds; the United States against Iran, Russia and China.
TUNISIA - ISLAM
Tunis, stop terrorism by closing fundamentalist mosquesPresident Essebsi believes unified and global strategy needed to counter terrorism. The attack in Sousse almost simultaneous with those in France, Kuwait, Somalia. Islamic State claims responsibility.
VATICAN – ITALY
Pope in Turin tells young people to be chaste in love, go against the flow and not retire at 20In his last meeting on the first day of his visit to Turin, Francis met young people in Vittorio Square. In a Question and Answer exchange, he talked about love, friendship and loss of trust towards life. "I understand you. How many hypocrites speak of peace and sell weapons. How can one trust? By following Christ, whose act of extreme love, i.e. the Cross, saved humanity." The pontiff also looked at the horrors of the 20th century as evidence of the loss of trust towards world powers. He urged young people “not to retire at 20,” but “live, don’t just exist.”

Dossier

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