Hamas keeps open Rafah crossing

Gazans' rush to buy essential goods creates mini-boom for traders in Egypt.

    The breach of the Rafah crossing is being seen as a strategic victory for Hamas [GALLO/GETTY]

    "Many believed their credibilty would crumble in the face of so much pressure, but the border opening and the fact that Gazans can break out of this prison, is now seen to be the work of the Hamas leadership."
     

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    She said: "Apart from the immediate humanitarian concerns, there is a major economic benefit to be gained from Egyptian traders, who are selling goods to the Gazans."

    "There is a lot of things coming from Cairo, to Gaza, and this is also helping the Egyptian economy."

     

    Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, has called the situation in Gaza "unacceptable" and called on Israel to "lift its siege" and "solve the problem".
     
    Cairo challenged
     
    Although Hamas' breach of the Rafah crossing has been seen as a challenge to Egypt's authority, Mubarak on Saturday invited Hamas and its political rival Fatah to meet for talks in Cairo.
     
    Khaled Meshaal, the exiled Hamas leader, said: "I and all the brothers in the Hamas leadership welcome participating and will seek to make the dialogue a success."

    But Abdallah Abdallah, a Fatah politician in the West Bank city of Ramallah, said: "There is a Palestinian consensus that Hamas should give up its control of Gaza and fall into line with president Abbas, without this the talks would be a waste of time."
     
    Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, on Saturday stuck to his conditions for resuming talks with Hamas, saying the group should reverse its takeover of the Gaza Strip.
     
    Fatah controls only the West Bank after Hamas seized total control of the Gaza Strip in June last year. 
     
    However, the Hamas-engineered border breaches have boosted the movement's popularity in the territory.
     
    US pressure
     
    The Egyptian government has been heavily criticed by the US for allowing the border to remain open and the US congress has suspended $100 million of aid to Cairo because of its failure to close the border.
     
    Violence erupted at the Rafah border on Friday after the Egyptian government announced it would be shutting the Rafah crossing.
     
    Egyptian forces took up positions a few steps into Palestinian territory, using shields to protect themselves from some Gaza residents who threw stones at them.

    The police responded with batons and water cannons. At least 22 people were injured, according to Mena, the state news agency

    Israel tightened its blockade of the Gaza Strip last week saying the move was intended to counter cross-border rocket fire by Palestinian groups.

    The closure of the territory led to dwindling supplies of food, fuel and other basic necessities.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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