Israel has blocked access to Gaza by land, sea and air. There is one way in and out, the Rafah crossing into Egypt. Since President Morsi’s election restrictions have eased but Gazans’ freedom of movement is vulnerable to any symbolic, and actual, punitive measures against Gaza. The people are helpless, their government Hamas is classed as an enemy terrorist; the Gazans have become the whipping boy for Middle East tensions. Eve Bartlett reports.
2nd posting this week on a fast-moving situation. President Mursi has ordered military action and closed the Rafah crossing; Israeli aircraft hover with lethal weapons. But reports here suggest an agreement with Bedouin tribes and relaxing the Gaza siege – which has created a network of tunnels and their thriving trade in everything from fuel and food to weapons – offer the only route to law and order in the Sinai.
The Egyptian uprising is finally having results for the people of Gaza. Gaza’s Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has had talks with new Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi and agreed that the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt will be open 12 hours a day. This should ease the siege imposed by Israel on people and goods moving in and out of Gaza.
At the Passover Seder (Friday 6th April this year) Jews commemorate the Pharoah’s decision to free them from slavery, the ‘passing over’ of their houses of the plague that killed other first-born sons and their exodus from Egypt. Here Robert Cohen urges Jews to turn from the denial of the Pharoah-like injustice which makes Palestinians feel like strangers in their own land
Egypt’s policies have always been central to Palestinian-Israeli relations. The revolution has changed Egypt’s role – but the new parliament is ‘ideologically skewed, incoherent at best, and overwhelmingly gendered’ says Khalid Abdalla
Since the popular overthrow of Arab dictators – also the west’s henchmen – the USA has been left without powerful allies in much of the Middle East. The Obama administration has held high level talks with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, a move condemned as naive by Israel. Islamist parties are seen by pragmatists as the face of the future in contrast with the Quartet’s ‘peace partners’. From Time and the NY Times
There are electric lifts, railways, petrol pipe-lines and little red tape.. Israel’s siege of Gaza, an act of reprisal, was intended to bring bring the people to their knees and destroy support for Hamas. Gazan ingenuity and Hamas flexibility have produced the opposite result.
Last August, attacks with bombs and guns killed 8 Israelis. The IDF blamed the Popular Resistance Committees and attacked Gaza killing 15 Palestinian civilians and 5 PRC militants. Now Egypt’s security force has arrested 3 Sinai-based militants as the real perpetators of the attacks. 1. Maan news, 2, IDF statement
The dependence of Israel on Mubarak’s control is evident as Netanyahu’s government looks for ways to master the unruly peoples of Sinai and Gaza and the military regime in Egypt has, for the first time, to take into account popular Arab feeling. Adam Shatz in his LRB blog, first, and then Issandr El Amrani of The Arabist assess the change of power relationships
The Sinai desert is home to many factions and people – Bedouin, Islamist, insurgents against and refugees from Israel and Egypt. Lina Attalah, managing editor of Almasry Alyoum, reviews this ‘cauldron’ of violent anti-government action
Ramzy Baroud, editor of PalestineChronicle.com, is one of those allowed to cross into his Gaza home under the new Egyptian rule
A second report on the Rafah opening, from the Ma’an news agency, gives details of who may be allowed to cross, when, and of some of the people in Egypt who long to see their families immured in Gaza
The re-entry of Egypt as a pivotal player in regional politics has sidelined an (almost) friendless Israel argues Ramzy Baroud
Hamas and Fatah have lost their sponsors in the Arab spring, and Egypt moved quickly on its policy priority of Palestinian unity
Allegations of croneyism, profiteering and harming the national interest will be put to Egyptian Oil Ministry officials arrested over the terms of gas sales to Israel
The head of Palestinian affais in Egypt’s new government has promised to ease restrictions at the Rafah crossing and facilitate Palestinian unity
Events are taking place too quickly and in too many countries for anyone to have a comprehensive, informed overview of developments. We’ve put together a few links to what we hope are useful articles dealing with Libya, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan…
If you read just one thing let it be As’ad AbuKhalil’s 300-word contribution.
Updated Sat 26 Feb 10.4am
“There are moments in world affairs that call for the suspension of disbelief,” write the editors of the Middle East Report Online. “At these junctures, caution ought to be suppressed and cynicism forgotten to let joy and wonderment resound.” The article “Red-White-and-Black Valentine” is just such a celebration of the Egyptian revolution. The second Mero article crossposted here, “Revolution and Counter-Revolution in the Egyptian Media” argues that “Access to and use of communication and information networks — cellular phone services; the Internet and new social media; TV and newspapers — was pivotal as events unfolded. ” In it Ursula Lindsey explores the possibilities and the contradictions involved in the new battle of the media; the army’s initial attempts to control, by shutting down the phone service, text messaging, the internet — and why that failed to abort the revolution…
Plus: Richard Silverstein writes about digital media in an age of revolution.
Some wonderful writing by Thomas Friedman in Cairo: “[And] when young Egyptians looked around the region and asked: Who is with us in this quest [for freedom, dignity and justice] and who is not?, the two big countries they knew were against them were Israel and Saudi Arabia. Sad. The children of Egypt were having their liberation moment and the children of Israel decided to side with Pharaoh – right to the very end…”
A JfJfP statement of support for the Egyptian people and a short selection of articles on Egypt and the wider region.