Border Fence Folly at Rafah, Gaza

January 24, 2008

Wednesday’s breach of Israeli-built concrete and steel “border fencing” by Hamas militants in Rafah, Gaza, with tens of thousands of Palestinians now streaming into Egypt to buy food, fuel and other supplies they haven’t had access to in months, demonstrates once again the futility of walling people in or walling people out. Desperate people do desperate things, as we theoretically learned from the Berlin Wall debacle. Masked Palestinian gunmen simply blew holes into the Gaza-Egypt border fence on Wednesday, and that was that.

Palestinians Walking on the Supposedly Secure Israeli Border Fence at Rafah, Gaza, After Hamas Blew Holes in It

Americans seem slightly less preoccupied with the idea of a border fence now that the economy is tanking, but Rafah shows just how easy it would be for Mexicans to demolish sections of our proposed border fence. (While Israel and the United States have urged Egypt to regain border control, Hassam Zaki, of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, said that the Rafah border crossing would remain open “as long as this is a humanitarian crisis.” According to MENA, a state-run Egyptian news agency, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he ordered troops to let the Palestinians in because they were starving.)

Gaza Strip Residents Scramble to Get Out While the Getting's Good

Rafah, the only Gaza border crossing not controlled by Israel, was maintained by Egypt and the Palestinian Authority until Hamas took over last June. After a series of rocket attacks on southern Israel, Israeli authorities closed all of its Gaza border crossings last week. But punishing Hamas also punishes already-impoverished Gaza residents. On Tuesday morning, Israel briefly allowed medical supplies and fuel into Gaza to avoid a humanitarian crisis. However, Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, reported that Israel intends to keep Gaza sealed off except as emergency humanitarian needs dictate. Good luck with that plan, Israel.

Thousands of Palestinians Pouring into Egypt Past the Broken Israeli Border Fence

Photo credits: AFP / Mahmud Hams and AP / Kevin Frayer

Copyright ©2008

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