Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza. [File].
(photo credit: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
Egypt’s decision to reopen its border with Gaza has several immediate and
longer-term repercussions, but most significantly, it means that there is no
longer a security blockade on the Strip.
Once the border is opened by
Egypt, any claim that Gaza is under a blockade will be divorced from reality.
Gazans will be able to freely travel in and out of the Strip on “all days of the
week,” as Egyptian security officials have confirmed.
What this will mean
for Israel’s security remains to be seen. It will be up to Egypt to ensure that
the border is not used to smuggle in rockets, assault weapons and other deadly
arms from Sinai into Gaza – weapons used by Palestinian terror organizations to
fire indiscriminately on Israeli civilians in the South.
reportedly made progress in shutting down smuggling tunnels linking Gaza to
Sinai, though recent history has shown that without a continual effort to keep
the tunnels shut, they can easily be reopened and back in the service of Hamas,
Islamic Jihad and other terror groups within a short period of
Hamas has promised Egypt it would shut down its smuggling tunnels
in exchange for a reopening of the Rafah border crossing. Should Egypt force
Hamas to honor the offer, it would mean that all goods entering Gaza would
travel over land, making them subject to Egyptian security checks, which Israel
would expect to be carried out thoroughly.
Beyond the border issues, a
larger question centers on the possibility of an alliance between Gaza’s Hamas
rulers and their fellow Muslim Brotherhood members who have ascended to power in
The main obstacle to the formation of such an alliance remains
American influence over Egypt.
If Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy wished
to move past Muslim Brotherhood rhetoric and become Hamas’s patron, he knows
he’d be risking a severance of $1.3 billion per year of crucial American aid to
the Egyptian army, without which Egypt would lose its military
Egypt is also one of the largest importers of American wheat in
With no alternative in sight for American assistance, hopes
that the new Egypt will opt to run its border with Gaza in a responsible manner
that promotes regional stability do not seem unfounded, at least for the time