Saturday, January 3, 2009

It takes two to tango/besiege Gaza

Anshel Pfeffer has a take on the Gaza "siege" which, embarrassingly enough, I never considered: Israel cannot unilaterally impose a siege on the Gaza Strip, as it shares a land border with Egypt as well as with Israel.

In all the talk of the siege, blockade and humanitarian disaster of Gaza, one small inconvenient detail almost always goes unmentioned. Gaza has a second border in addition to the one with Israel: a small but potentially useful border with its Arab sister, Egypt. [...]

A well-regulated and secure crossing at Rafah could have solved most of the current problems. It could have let through normal food and medical supplies for the Palestinians, allowed them travel and made a mockery of the claims that Israel and its allies have turned the Strip into a gigantic prison.

But despite signing the Philadelphi Agreement that allowed it to station many more troops in the demilitarised Sinai peninsula, and receiving European assistance to control the border-crossing, Egypt has failed to police it. Instead it sealed the border and forced back Palestinians who tried to break through. This was also a misguided policy on the part of Israel, which urged and supported the Egyptian blockade.

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