Analysis: There is no Gaza blockade

Egypt's decision to reopen border with Gaza effectively means there's no longer a security blockade on the Strip.

Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza. [File] (photo credit: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
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.
Egypt has 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 time.
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 Cairo.
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 brawn.
Egypt is also one of the largest importers of American wheat in the world.
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 being.