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Enforcement of the Gaza Border

On Jan. 6, 2010 Egyptian security forces engaged in clashes with Palestinians at the Gaza border of Rafah. One Egyptian soldier died and four Palestinians were wounded in the fight.

The Palestinians were demonstrating  against Egypt’s enforcement of the Israeli blockade against the region, and its efforts to build a wall to assist its border security. The Mubarak regime argued that the wall is necessary to reduce smuggling and prevent Islamic militants from passing into Egypt.

Because of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, however, many Egyptians had called on their government to open its one border with Gaza, . The government has refused, except to let some medical supplies pass through.  To see Egyptian security forces using violence against other Arabs led to rising criticism of Mubarak as a U.S. and Israeli puppet.

From 1949 until 1967 the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian rule, and people could travel by train or car from Cairo to Gaza through the Sinai Peninsula. In 1967 the Gaza Strip was occupied by the Israeli military and the Rafah border was largely closed to Egyptian travelers. In 1982 Israeli troops withdrew and Egypt once again controlled Rafah. As it became more and more difficult for Palestinians to cross the Israel controlled border at Erez, Rafah increasingly became a Palestinian commercial lifeline.

In an ironic twist, Agence France-Presse reported that  Hamas had closeed the Rafah border crossing after guards on the Egyptian side fled their posts. Hamas officials announced the Rafah crossing would be closed for “several days,” to prevent hundreds of Palestinians from crossing into Egypt.

Return to:

Why Now?

Egypt Rising Up

Connected in Cairo

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