Palestinian protesters demand reopening of Rafah

Palestinian protesters demand reopening of Rafah
Sat Mar 1, 2014 14:37:36

Hundreds of Palestinians in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip have waged a protest rally at the Rafah border crossing to Egypt, demanding the reopening of the only route out of the brutal siege of the enclave by Egyptian authorities.

“We demand the Egyptian authorities open the Gaza crossing permanently in both directions and we affirm that we won’t stop our peaceful escalation on Palestinian land until the [Israeli] siege is lifted,” said Hamad El-Rakeb, a leading member of the Hamas resistance movement during the protest.

The crossing, Gaza’s only open border due to the ongoing Israeli siege of the strip, has frequently been shut down by Egyptian authorities in recent months.

Egypt’s military-installed government claims the closures are necessary in order to limit alleged weapons smuggling into the Sinai, a troubled region with a pronounced security void.

Since the forced ouster of Egypt’s first democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi in July, the country’s interim authorities have maintained an uneasy relationship with Hamas authorities, who have ruled Gaza since their 2007 election into office.

Hamas officials -- who fiercely deny having any armed presence in Egyptian territory -- have complained that Egypt has limited the number of daily passengers from 1,200 to only 300 since Morsi’s ouster on 3 July, 2013.

In retaliation for Morsi’s coup-like ouster, near daily terrorist attacks have targeted Egyptian army and police forces in the Sinai.

The military-led Egyptian authorities have also waged a major campaign to demolish a network of supply tunnels that facilitate the import of basic goods to the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The absence of the tunnels has led to severe fuel shortages and price hikes in consumer goods in the impoverished enclave. Fuel purchased from the Israeli regime costs nearly double the price of the fuel brought in from Egypt via the supply tunnels.

Construction has also been hard-hit by the Egyptian-imposed restrictions on the transporting of building materials to the Palestinian territory, decimating Gaza’s economic growth.

According to Hamas, the closure of the tunnels has cost the nation $230 million in monthly losses.


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