24 January 2008

Walls fall.

Palestinians Topple Gaza Wall and Cross to Egypt

Yesterday, Hamas blew open the wall between the Gaza strip and Egypt. Palestinians are streaming across to buy building supplies, food, satellites for TV, sheep and more. With the boarders into Israel still shut, the holes in the wall at Rafah are the best route for goods.

Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, refused in an interview to take direct responsibility for ordering the Egyptian border opened, but said: “We are creating facts. We have to try to change the situation, and now we await the results.”

What an interesting way to put it, we are creating facts. It could be a quirk of translation, but it has a very "I'm taking control of my destiny" ring to it.

“I told them: ‘Let them come in to eat and buy food, then they go back, as long as they are not carrying weapons,’ ” President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt told reporters at a book fair in Cairo. This came after his forces had pushed back protesting women from the Rafah crossing on Tuesday.

For their part, Israeli officials said that, if controlled, the border opening to Egypt might allow Israel to lock the door to a Hamas-run Gaza and let the Egyptians handle the poverty and problems of the 1.5 million people there.

How much is this going to change the situation there? The Gaza strip is controlled by Hamas and now has an open boarder with Egypt, while the West Bank is controlled by Fatah and still has boarders open with Israel. I don't know enough about the politics of the region to guess.

By the way, the slide show of pictures is very neat. Seeing people stand on rubble that used to be walls is always compelling. There is something about the idea of these sturdy things falling and not holding anyone back anymore.

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