Besieged Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are getting a brief reprieve
thanks to a gesture from Egypt. Robert Berger reports from the VOA
bureau in Jerusalem.
Egypt reopened its Rafah border crossing
with Gaza for the first time in months, allowing hundreds of
Palestinians to enter the country. Both Egypt and Israel sealed their
borders with Gaza after the Islamic militant group Hamas routed the
rival Palestinian Fatah faction and seized control of the territory in
a civil war a year ago.
Egypt and Israel oppose the Hamas
takeover and want to reinstate an international agreement, in which the
more moderate Fatah controls the Rafah crossing with European monitors.
Hamas says it should control the border.
Putting the dispute
aside, Egypt opened Rafah for two days as a goodwill gesture for the
Muslim holy month of Ramadan which begins next week. Palestinians
needing medical care, students studying abroad and residents with
foreign passports are being allowed into Egypt.
welcomed the move. Palestinian analyst Wadia Abu Nasser says the
blockade only makes Hamas and the Gaza population more radical.
believe the blockade is a backfire," he said. "When you make a blockade
or a siege on a non-democratic regime, many times it is
Israel says it won't lift its crippling
blockade on Gaza until Hamas renounces violence and recognizes the
Jewish state. And Egypt sees open borders as a security threat since
Palestinians from Hamas could link up with the Egyptian Muslim
So a long-term opening of Gaza's borders does not appear likely anytime soon.