Egypt Opens Border with Gaza

Via the AP:  After 4 years, Egypt reopens its border with Gaza

Egypt lifted a 4-year-old blockade of the Gaza Strip on Saturday, greatly easing travel restrictions on the 1.5 million residents of the Palestinian territory in a move that bolstered the Hamas government while dealing a setback to Israel’s attempts to isolate the militant group.


Saturday’s expansion of the Rafah crossing was a tangible benefit of the popular unrest sweeping through the Arab world. The blockade, which has fueled an economic crisis in Gaza, is deeply unpopular among Arabs, and Egypt’s caretaker leaders had promised to end it since the ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak in February.

Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade after the Islamic militant Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007. The closure aimed to weaken Hamas. But the Iranian-backed group remains firmly in power, operating the border crossing even at a time when it is supposed to be reconciling with the rival Fatah movement.

Until Saturday, the Rafah border terminal had functioned at a limited capacity. Only certain classes of people, such as students, businessmen or medical patients, were eligible to travel and the crossing was often subject to closures, leading to huge backlogs that forced people to wait for months.


Israel, which controls Gaza’s cargo crossings, allows most consumer goods into Gaza, but still restricts exports as well as the entry of much-needed construction materials, saying they could be used by militants. Israel also enforces a naval blockade aimed at weapons smuggling.

Israeli and American officials have expressed concerns that Hamas will exploit the opening to bring weapons and fighters into Gaza. In January 2008, masked militants blew open the Rafah border wall, allowing thousands of people to pour in and out of Egypt.

One expects that this will set off another round of histrionics regarding Israel here in the US.

However, I have to wonder as to the degree which treating Gaza like a large refugee camp is actually in Israel’s long-term interest.  It seems to me that the best way to stoke the fire of radicalism is to be seen as outside oppressors who are actively working to curtail normal life.  Yes, I understand the logic of putting the squeeze on Hamas, but one has to admit that so doing has a large impact on a rather large number of people.  If the goal is to stop Palestinian aggression, there is at least the possibility to consider that maybe allowing Gaza to develop is in Israel’s long-term interests.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Tano says:

    Yes, it does seem like the Israeli right includes some of the stupidest people on earth. Hey, lets turn Gaza into a virtual concentration camp – that’ll get the natives there to turn against their own leaders and be less hostile to us!!!

    After all, whenever the Palestinians make us suffer, our instinct is to reject our extremists and do all we can to be nice to the Palestinians….

  2. Southern Hoosier says:

    This will make life a lot easier for Hamas. Now they won’t have to use tunnels to smuggle in mortar shells and rockets.

  3. anjin-san says:

    Now they won’t have to use tunnels to smuggle in mortar shells and rockets.

    God knows we don’t have any weapons. What kind of animals are these?

  4. Southern Hoosier says:

    anjin-san says:
    Monday, May 30, 2011 at 01:38

    God knows we don’t have any weapons. What kind of animals are these?

    What kind of animals set up mortars and rockets in school yards? What kind of animals launches poorly aimed rockets and fire mortars into civilian population with little concern where they land as long as they hit something. Muslims animals

    So far this year, Hamas and its terrorist allies have launched more than 130 mortar and rocket attacks from Gaza into major population centers in Israel, including the cities of Beersheva and Ashdod. Hamas also has expanded its attacks on Israeli soldiers who patrol the border with Gaza.

    In early May, Israel’s navy stopped a cargo ship that was headed to Egypt, with more than 50 tons of Iranian weapons that would be smuggled into Gaza – 2,500 mortar shells, 67,000 AK-47 rounds, two radar systems, and six Nasr-1 anti-ship cruise missiles, the latter of which would have greatly increased the risk to Israeli ships.

    Now Hamas can ship these weapons overland and kill more Jews. Would that make you happy to have fewer Jews in this world?

    Read more:

  5. Southern Hoosier says:

    67,000 AK-47 rounds

    67,000 AK-47 rounds can kill a lot of Palestinians that disagree with Hamas.