EU Rafah monitoring head urges freer movement

The head of the European mission monitoring operations at the Egypt-Gaza border urged Israel on Thursday to stop restricting operations there, saying disruptions only promote "extremism and terror." Israel, citing security alerts, has kept the Rafah terminal, Gaza's main gateway to the outside world, closed for about 80 percent of the time since Palestinian militants from Gaza kidnapped an Israeli soldier in June. On Thursday, mission head Lt. Gen. Pietro Pistolese said it's counterproductive to deprive Gaza's 1.4 million people access to the rest of the world. "It is vital that there is a return to normal operations at Rafah as soon as possible," Pistolese told a conference at the Netanya Academic College. Keeping the border closed "only encourages more people to resort to extremism and terror," said Pistolese, an Italian.