Egypt Re-Opens Gaza Border, Partially Dismantling Siege
A cornerstone of U.S.-Israel policy over the past five years has just partially dissolved with Egypt’s reopening today of the Rafah border crossing. This will allow passenger traffic (but not goods) to cross every day with little hindrance (though men from 18-40 will have to undergo a special security screening). It leaves Israel to maintain its siege on its own border with Gaza. Israel currently maintains the only border crossing that allows goods to cross. But Egypt is considering removing even this restriction. When it does (as I presume it will if there are no major problems with the Rafah opening), then the Israeli siege will be dead. And yet another punitive U.S.-Israeli policy toward the Palestinians will have bitten the dust and shown itself to have served no useful purpose.
Ethan Bronner, as usual acting as the stenographer for the Israeli government and conveying the wishful thinking of its policy “experts,” claims the lifting of the Egyptian siege will actually help Israeli policy goals. It supposedly will place a greater burden on Egypt to police its borders and, by extension, Hamas. But the most laughable claim by the Israelis is that lifting the siege will actually release international pressure on Israel, since there presumably would no longer be any humanitarian crisis to make the world scream bloody murder. What this neglects though, is that Egypt will likely shortly allow everything to enter Gaza, not just people. And when that happens, Israel will look stupid if it maintains a blockade. It’s reminds me of the extraordinary lengths to which the French went to build the Maginot Line, which they believed made them impregnable to German attack. There was only one problem: when the Germans attacked, they went around it and conquered France in record time. Maintaining a siege on one border when the other is completely open looks not only mean-spirited and ineffectual, but downright dumb. Israel doesn’t like to be seen by the world as dumb. So I predict even the Israeli siege will be drastically modified in six months or less.
Returning to Hamas, as Tony Karon so aptly writes at his Time Magazine blog, there is only one way to deal with it: engage. If there is ever to be real peace between Israelis and Palestinians it will have to receive at least a tacit blessing from Hamas. Laying siege to Gaza was a useless, wasted policy. It secured nothing, proved nothing. We (that is, the U.S., I can’t speak for Israel) should try something else. Something more positive. If we don’t, we will have only ourselves to blame and the corpses of hundreds or thousands more dead laid at our doorstep until we look at things more pragmatically and less ideologically.
- Egypt to open Rafah crossing permanently (warincontext.org)
26 thoughts on “Egypt Re-Opens Gaza Border, Partially Dismantling Siege – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Very good news.
Ok, with this and the opening of the latest shopping mall can you please stop lying about the horrific conditions in gaza.
Wow, a shopping mall opens in Gaza & Mr. Altalena-Begin-Irgun says Israel no longer is violating international law due to its siege. Why don’t you stop lying yourself. The siege continues, the violation of law continues. When Israel ends the siege come back & talk to us.
Don’t much like your language or tone. You’re being moderated & comments will be approved as long as they adhere to the comment rules, which you should read.
What about when Hamas closed the shades and lit candles in their goverment headquarters, to make it look like they had no electricity? Can’t you admit that Hamas and many Palestinians actually have an interest in exaggerating the conditions in Gaza, just like rightists have an interest in exaggerating the threat of Islamic terrorism?
And I suppose all those malnourished screaming babies whose rate of malnutrition has been documented by UN agencies were made up as well. Puh-leeze. The incidents you bring up happened yrs ago. The only reason you don’t use the term Pallywood is you know it’ll get you banned. How would you know what conditions are in Gaza? What sources do you have or use? Have you visited? Spoken to anyone who has? Read any credible UN or human rights NGO rpts.? Or are you using Jerusalem Post, MEMRI, the IDF, MFA or Debka as your sources??
You are skeptical of pro-Israel sources, fair enough. The question is, why are you so accepting of the UN and NGOs? There are 54 Muslim countries in the UN, and they have many allies. Theocracies, kingdoms, and dictatorships sit on the UN’s various councils and agencies. Shouldn’t that make you at least as skeptical toward them as you are toward pro-Israel sources?
Muslim theocracies & dictatorships don’t write the Gaza humanitarian reports. They’re written by career UN human rights & aid workers who do this for a living & are not subject to pressure from anyone, let alone Muslim countries.
You’re right, but they set the tone and the context within which they work. As a progressive, you should understand this better than anyone, for example regarding capitalist or racial interests which you will claim underlie right-wing schemes in economics and foreign policy. Nobody is under pressure or threatened at MEMRI either. It’s the overall ideologies supported and perpetuated by the regimes that make up the UN and the NGO community.
Israel is alone: it is not a part of the Arab league, it is not a part of the Asia Group, it is not a part of Europe. It us the only majority Jewish state in the world, and as such its narrative cannot withstand the pressures of its opponents. If there were 54 Jewish states, if China and Russia were Jewish states, you can be sure that the conclusions of these studies would be very different because they would reflect the make-up and interests of a very different world.
Muslim dictators “set the tone” in which UNWRA aid workers perform their job? Are you on drugs? I take that back–too harsh. But your statement is ridiculous on its face.
It was founded by an Israeli intelligence agent. MEMRI doesn’t need to feel pressure from Israel to do its bidding. It does so willingly.
Except for that 900 lb. gorilla at its back–Uncle Sam. And in fact Israel could be part of most of the groups you list above if it transformed itself into a law abiding member of the international community. It would be welcomed w. open arms if it did that.
Egypt will likely shortly allow everything to enter Gaza, not just people. And when that happens, Israel will look stupid if it maintains a blockade.
Actually it would be illegal. One of the rules of international law is that a blockade must effective in order to be legal. That is necessary in order to avoid a charge of piracy, e.g. What motive is there for Israel to permit goods to freely enter Gaza from Egypt, while at the same time maintaining an embargo in name only in order to seize cargoes and ships of other neutral states trading with Gaza?
Suspicions were already raised when the Haifa Mayor proposed turning the Mavi Marmara into a “floating hotel”, despite the fact that it had been seized in international waters and wasn’t carrying any contraband.
Ok, no problem. The border with Egypt is open. So this is no longer an issue. Explain to me why I’m wrong.
This is not difficult. Because: (a) the Mediterranean Sea is not a Jewish lake; (b) there are 190 other neutral states that Palestine can trade with beside Egypt and Israel; (c) Egypt is still only allowing people, not cargo through; (d) the folks in Bentonville will demand a Walmart next to that shopping mall as part of any final settlement.
It’s mainly speculation but I’d say because you lack the ability to properly acquire and process information – due to deeply entrenched bias, I’d guess. The deeper reasons can probably be found in your upbringing and your social environment.
It’s still an issue because for the anti-Israel crowd, this is all about Israel exercising its rights as a sovereign state, which includes controlling its own borders. Any act by Israel which reinforces its existence is deemed unacceptable.
It’s still an issue because for the anti-Israel crowd, this is all about Israel exercising its rights as a sovereign state,
Israel doesn’t have “sovereignty” over the airspace or territorial waters of Gaza or the right in international law to prevent the people living their from entering or leaving their own country.
Ralph Wilde explained the old definition of sovereignty that you are using: “the ”racialized” concept of a “standard of civilization” was deployed to determine that certain peoples in the world were “uncivilized”, lacking organized societies, a position reflected and constituted in the notion that their “sovereignty” was either completely lacking, or at least of an inferior character when compared to that of “civilized” peoples.”
In 1945 the old hierarchy of states was abolished when the United Nations adopted the principle of “sovereign equality” of States. The International Law Commission explained that the idea was a novelty in international law when it was introduced in the UN Charter and simply meant that all states are juridically equal and that the only tangible manifestation of sovereignty is jurisdiction.
169 other countries routinely adopt resolutions which recognize the permanent sovereignty or jurisdiction of the Palestinian people over the resources of their territory and 112 of them recognize the State of Palestine as the juridical equal of the State of Israel.
Israel’s control of Gazan airspace and waters is not due to sovereignty but due to the conflict that exists between it and Hamas. This is a legal act of self-defence. Furthermore no country is “obligated” to have its borders open, especially with hostile neighbors such as Hamas ruled Gaza.
Sorry bud, but international law does not have such distinctions. If you control access to a region you occupy it plain & simple. The siege is illegal & at some pt. this issue will be adjudicated & the position of the international law & human rights community on this will be vindicated & views of people like you will be left in the dust where they belong.
No country may deliberately starve another into submission as Israel has attempted to do to Gaza for the past 6 yrs.
The Jerusalem Post reports in Berlin to pay Moroccan Jews who suffered under Vichy that Germany has agreed to make payments to Moroccan Jews whose freedom of movement was curtailed by the Axis powers.
That constitutes evidence of “state practice” which supports the obligation of Israel to pay compensation to the victims of inhumane restrictions placed upon their freedom of movement in violation of a fundamental right recognized under international customary law or treaty. Long before the Goldstone report, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, John Dugard, wrote:
“Checkpoints are not so much a security measure for ensuring that would-be suicide bombers do not enter Israel, but rather the institutionalization of the humiliation of the Palestinian people. Similarly, a curfew is not simply a restriction on leaving one’s home. It is the imprisonment of the people within their own homes. Unable to go to work, to buy food, to go to school, to visit hospitals or to bury their dead, they are confined within the walls of their own homes while the IDF patrols their streets. Statistics of checkpoints and curfews cannot accurately portray the obscenity of the situation.” See E/CN.4/2004/6, 8 September 2003
The observations in the Goldstone report regarding the systematic and widespread curtailment of freedom of movement have not yet been addressed by the Government of Israel or the IDF:
From the facts available to it, the Mission believes that in the movement and access policy there has been a violation of the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of race or national origin The Mission is concerned about the steps taken recently to formalize the separation of Gaza from the West Bank, and, as such, of two parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The Mission is also concerned that the increasingly entrenched array of movement and access restrictions, both physical and non-physical, amount to a deliberate policy of closely controlling a population in order to make use of areas of its land. From the facts available, the Mission believes that these restrictions constitute violations of fundamental rights.
The Mission further considers that the series of acts that deprive Palestinians in the Gaza Strip of their means of subsistence, employment, housing and water, that deny their freedom of movement and their right to leave and enter their own country, that limit their rights to access a court of law and an effective remedy, could lead a competent court to find that the crime of persecution, a crime against humanity, has been committed.
The bottom line is that there can and should be long term financial implications for Israel and its allies as a result of the illegal administrative regime imposed upon the inhabitants of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Lengthy and detailed refutations of these reports exist. It is possible that the custodians of international law misrepresent and distort it, just like I’m sure you would agree that the medieval church distorted the Bible despite its official and scholarly veneer.
Any comparison between Israel’s present situation vis-a-vis the Arabs, which is one of conflict with hostile neighbors, with Jews during WWII is obscene.
Lengthy and detailed refutations of these reports exist.
Then why are Israeli officials not sending them to the United Nations? I’ve read every one of their written submissions and they don’t even address that finding. See for example the Last Follow-up Report and the request to have the Security Council refer the situation to the ICC.
There were reliable published reports which said that Israeli officials threatened to turn the West Bank into a second Gaza if the Palestinian authorities didn’t defer the UN vote on the Goldstone report.
Any comparison between Israel’s present situation vis-a-vis the Arabs, which is one of conflict with hostile neighbors, with Jews during WWII is obscene.
Hmmm. Intifada is usually translated into English as “uprising”. I think the parallels between Gaza and the Warsaw Ghetto and the Jewish uprising are fairly obvious.
There are rules for comment threads here about using pejorative epithets like ‘anti-Israel.’ YOU’ve just violated them. So if you abuse such terms in future here you face consequences for doing so. I am NOT anti-Israel & if you even hint that this is true in future, you’ve been warned about what will result.
Terrific piece. Shared.
The border with Egypt is open. Is it not. Ergo there is no longer a “siege” of Gaza. And in fact when the Muslim Brotherhood takes over in Egypt, then Hamas will really be riding high. Why aren’t you people happy? Also, Scotland evidently feels that books by Israeli authors are too dangerous to be allowed in the country. Another win for you guys. Why the angst.
No, not fully open. Not open to goods & not open to men bet. 18-40 yrs.
The narrative of a true believer Israeli Jewish nationalist. Don’t let reality interfere with your delusions.
I find this sort of snark offensive. You’ll address people for their individual opinions or you won’t address them at all.
The border with Egypt is open. Is it not. Ergo there is no longer a “siege” of Gaza.
The conclusion does not follow from the preceding argument. Israel has asked the UN and its member states to stop the upcoming Gaza aid flotilla because it is still maintaining a naval blockade on Gaza. Israel has also turned about a third of Gaza into a buffer zone, controls its airspace and has not opened the border crossings with Israel.
So, bring it up with the Egyptians. Why is it incumbent for Israel to let in people who are a direct threat. May I remind you of the woman who was treated in an Israel hospital and then went back in an attempt to blow it up. But I digress, Egypt is not a friendly country to Israel. The border crossing is open. The stores are stocked and a a new shopping mall is opening in the world biggest prison. Please enlighten me has to the refutation.