Israel Concerned Over Opening of Rafah Crossing

Israel Concerned Over Opening of Rafah Crossing

Israel is becoming increasingly concerned over Egypt ‘s decision to open the Rafah border crossing.

Egypt has announced its plans to permanently open the crossing sometime in the next 10 days. Israel fears Egypt ‘s strengthening relationship with Hamas as Egyptian’s are less inclined to support the peace treaty with Israel .

Even when the Egyptian government was actively preventing weapons from being smuggled into Gaza Strip, Hamas was still capable of building a  significant military force. The beleaguered Gaza Strip is in dire need of food, medicine and fuel, however, Israel is concerned about the possibility that Hamas would build a stronger military force.

Some Israeli officials opine that opening the crossing is a possible opportunity forIsrael to transfer all responsibility for the Strip over to Egypt .

The crossing has been officially closed since 2007. At that time Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip, and since then Egypt has allowed it to open from time to time for Palestinians to travel in and out of Gaza .

Egypt believes that the decision to open the crossing is an internal affair that does not concern Israel or any other country and in this context, Egypt has issued a warning to Israel not to interfere in matters of concern to Egypt and Palestine .

Israel prefers to leave Gaza Strip impoverished and under siege because of its concerns that the crossing would enable members of Hamas to transfer weapons and money into the poverty stricken Strip.

Israel claims that Egypt agreed with Hamas to open the crossing despite a deal that was made in 2005 by the US ; that Egypt would only open the crossing under the supervision of the EUBAM (European Union Border Assistance Mission Rafah) monitoring force. 

Egypt is preparing to open the crossing in a bid to ease the blockade and suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Since 2007, more than 1.5 million people in the Strip have been living under an Israeli siege.

In the meantime, Palestinian factions have struck a deal to make a unity government after negotiations were held recently in Cairo . This is a significant achievement since Hamas and Fatah have been at odds since the former won the Palestinian parliamentary elections in January 2006.

With the Rafah border crossing the only way for Palestinians to move in and out of Gaza Strip, Egypt believes the siege on the Strip and sealing off the border is ‘shameful’, and Egypt no longer accepts the crossing to remain closed.

When Mubarak’s regime was in power, Egypt actively supported Israel ‘s blockade and worked to prevent smuggling. However, when Mubarak was ousted earlier this year after mass street protests, the new military regime has been keen to review its policy on Gaza .