Egypt-Gaza border to stay open

Cairo official says embargo "a failure," time for new policy.

Gaza smuggling tunnel 311 (photo credit: Ashley Bates)
Gaza smuggling tunnel 311
(photo credit: Ashley Bates)
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — The embargo of Gaza has been a failure and Egypt will keep an open border with the Hamas-run territory for the foreseeable future, an Egyptian security official said on Monday.
Keeping the Rafah crossing point open long term would seriously undercut Israel's efforts to isolate and punish Gaza's Hamas rulers and give the Palestinians back a crucial link to the outside the world.
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The Egyptian security official explained that the border closure has failed to achieve its goals, including the release of an Israeli soldier held by Hamas since 2006. Israeli airstrikes and Egyptian efforts have also not choked off the bustling smuggling trade that makes use of hundreds of tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border.
The security official said a new policy must be found to end the suffering of the Palestinians, while keeping pressure on Hamas. He spoke Monday on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Egypt will keep its border crossing at the town of Rafah open indefinitely but will not allow large cargo or shipments of construction material through because the terminal is designed primarily to be a civilian passage, the official said.
A permanent opening of the Rafah crossing would only come if Hamas and its rivals in the Fatah movement of Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas reconcile and an internationally recognized authority is brought back to Gaza.