Monday, February 25, 2013

It's Egypt, Not Gaza

As made clear, the flooding of the Gaza tunnels foremost results in the reality that

Cairo is thus contributing to the continued isolation of Gaza

and in the first order, is only to make sure Egyptian security is not harmed:-

Army spokesman Ahmed Mohamed Ali said: “We realize how much our brothers in Palestine suffer, but that doesn’t mean that the Egyptian Armed Forces will allow anyone to harm national interests.” Some of the gunmen who killed Egyptian soldiers near the Gaza border in August crossed into the country via the tunnels, according to Cairo. This has been denied by Palestinians.

“I support Egypt’s right to protect its security,” wrote Abdel Bari Atwan, the Palestinian editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi. However, if the tunnels had been flooded after the August attack, “it might be more understandable,” he added. “Gaza’s residents shouldn’t pay the price for this crime, particularly when investigations couldn’t find any Palestinian involvement in it.”

Haddad suggested that the loosened restrictions at the Rafah border crossing may have encouraged the crackdown on the tunnels: “Now we can say that the borders are open to a good extent ... and the needs of the Gazan people are allowed in.” However, he has acknowledged that “it could still be improved.”

But there is a long-term consideration:-

Closing down the tunnels deprives Hamas of a vital source of revenue, made all the more important due to strains with its financial backer Iran because of the movement’s support for the Syrian revolution. Hamas taxes the tunnel trade, and prefers smuggling - particularly fuel - to paying customs duties for goods entering Gaza via Israel.

Despite this, Hamas’s reaction has been more muted than many expected. Cairo “doesn’t want (the blockade) to happen,” said Haya. “Egypt is a state of sovereignty, and we don’t impose on it anything,” added Hamas official Salah al-Bardawil. “We address the Egyptian side about the issue, and hope they’ll understand us and our needs. We trust the Egyptian leadership that they won’t leave the Palestinian people alone.”

This tame response is “the strongest indication yet” that Hamas’s leaders “are now pinning their hopes on their ideological allies in Cairo, even if at the moment they appear to be harming the interests of the citizens of Gaza,” wrote New York Times reporters Fares Akram and David Kirkpatrick.

In the Middle East, nothing is as it appears.


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