« | »

‘Gazans’ Blow Up Barrier, Pour Into Egypt

From an ebullient Associated Press:

Gazans knock down border, flee to Egypt

By IBRAHIM BARZAK, Associated Press Writer

RAFAH, Gaza Strip – Tens of thousands of Palestinians on foot and on donkey carts poured into Egypt from Gaza Wednesday after masked gunmen used land mines to blast down a seven-mile barrier dividing the border town of Rafah.

The border breach was a dramatic protest against the closure of the impoverished Palestinian territory imposed last week by Israel.

Jubilant men and women crossed unhindered by border controls over the toppled corrugated metal along sections of the barrier, carrying goats, chickens and crates of Coca-Cola. Some brought back televisions, car tires and cigarettes and one man even bought a motorcycle. Vendors sold soft drinks and baked goods to the crowds.

They were stocking up on goods made scarce by the Israeli blockade and within hours, shops on the Egyptian side of Rafah had run out of stock. The border fence had divided the Rafah into two halves, one on the Egyptian side and one in southern Gazan.

Ibrahim Abu Taha, 45, a Palestinian father of seven, was in the Egyptian section of Rafah with his two brothers and $185 in his pocket.

“We want to buy food, we want to buy rice and sugar, milk and wheat and some cheese,” Abu Taha said, adding that he would also buy cheap Egyptian cigarettes.

Abu Taha said he could get the basic foods in Gaza, but at three times the cost.

Police from the militant Islamic group Hamas, which controls Gaza, directed the traffic. Egyptian border guards took no action, imposing no border controls for those who crossed.

“Freedom is good. We need no border after today,” said unemployed 29-year-old Mohammed Abu Ghazal…

Egypt has largely kept its border with Gaza closed since the Hamas takeover amid concerns of a spillover of Hamas-style militancy into Egypt. But the government is under public pressure at home to help the impoverished Gazans.

The collapse of the border, although likely temporary, is a boon to Hamas. It briefly eases the international blockade of Gaza and gives the Islamic militants possible leverage in demanding new border arrangements.

At the same time, it will likely raise tensions between Egypt and Israel, which fears militants and weapons will flood Gaza in growing numbers.

Hamas supreme leader Khaled Mashaal said from Syria that Hamas was willing to work out a new border arrangement with Egypt and the rival Fatah faction led by moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

In Gaza, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called for an urgent meeting with Egypt and Fatah to work out a new shared arrangement for Gaza’s border crossings and suggested that Hamas would be prepared to cede some control to the rival government of moderate Abbas in the West Bank.

“We don’t want to be the only ones in control of these matters,” Haniyeh said, speaking from his Gaza City office live on Hamas TV.

But the call was swiftly denounced by Abbas’ government. Ashraf Ajrami, a Cabinet minister in Abbas’ government, said Haniyeh’s call for participation was meant to sidestep Abbas’ demand that Hamas return all of Gaza to his control.

“Everything Haniyeh is saying is simply to exploit this situation to win political gains. … It is a part of the problem, not the solution,” Ajrami said…

There were 17 explosions in all, Hamas security officials said. At first, Hamas and Egyptian security officers prevented people from getting through, witnesses said. But by morning thousands of Gazans had massed at the border and overwhelmed police began letting people cross…

Funny that Egypt is afraid of allowing the wonderful Palestinians into their country.

Why is that, do you think?

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “‘Gazans’ Blow Up Barrier, Pour Into Egypt”

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.

« Front Page | To Top
« | »