Egypt steps up crackdown on Rafah border

Egypt steps up crackdown on Rafah border
Mon Sep 16, 2013 14:18:17

The Egyptian military is pressing ahead with its assaults on the border area between the besieged Gaza Strip and Northern Sinai.

On Monday Egyptian army bulldozers razed trees and small buildings in what many Rafah crossing residents describe as an Egyptian buffer zone along the border with Gaza.

The military has stepped up the destruction of the tunnels on the Egyptian side of the border with the besieged Gaza Strip since removal of the ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.

Many of the smuggling tunnels have been destroyed and the army has also issued an evacuation order forcing residents of the border area to abandon their homes.

The tunnels are used to smuggle humanitarian supplies and medicine into the Gaza Strip which has been suffering from a strict Israeli-imposed siege for years.

According to the Hamas ministry of interior, Egyptian soldiers are not only destroying houses and tunnels along the border, but they are also provoking Palestinian security personnel by aiming their machine guns toward the Gaza Strip and pointing floodlights at night toward Palestinian security positions.

Ahmed Ali, an Egyptian army spokesman, said that progress was made during army operations in Sinai which he said geared to consolidate security in the border region.

However, the Egyptian army crackdown on the crossing and smuggling tunnels has a direct effect on daily lives of people in Gaza who are losing an important source of receiving humanitarian aids.

In recent weeks, Egyptian army corps of engineers placed explosive charges in several Egyptian houses on the border with the Gaza Strip and blew them to bits.

The Egyptian army claims the purpose of the crackdown on the border area is to destroy what remains of the tunnels connecting the two parts of the divided city of Rafah.

Rafah was divided in 1982 between the Gaza Strip and Egypt as part of the so-called Camp David peace accord between Tel Aviv and Egypt, which was signed in 1979.

Gaza blockade

Residents of Gaza are blockaded by land, sea and air by the Israeli regime forces.

The blockade is denying the Palestinian people access to medical supplies and food.

Hospitals face critical shortages, with 40 percent of all essential medicines at zero stock level, according to a report by the Canada-based Global Research.

Out of the 1.7 million Palestinians living in Gaza 54 percent are food-insecure including 428,000 children.

Israel’s illegal blockade has also led to a massive shortage of building materials to repair the homes, hospitals, schools and water/sanitation infrastructure that have been destroyed/damaged by the regime in the last 5 years.

Most of Gaza’s water supplies are polluted and unsafe to drink. There are power cuts every day as well.

The International Red Cross and the United Nations have found the Israeli government’s siege of Gaza to be illegal under international law.

In September 2011, five independent UN rights experts made a report to the UN Human Rights Council which said that Israel’s siege of Gaza amounted to collective punishment of the Palestinian people and was a “flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law” under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Prominent political thinker Noam Chomsky has described the Gaza Strip as “the world’s largest open air prison.”


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