What a Peaceful Palestinian Crossing Means for Egypt, Israel, and Hamas

| Wed Jan. 23, 2008 2:29 PM EST

gaza.jpg At 2am on Wednesday morning, the iron fence between Gaza and Egypt came down. Residents of Gaza, lacking basic supplies since Israel imposed a blockade nearly a week ago, have been crossing as quickly as they can and bringing back all that they can carry.

Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's decision not to beat back the surge so far has not backfired on him, not least because of how little violence has accompanied the crossing. One news report described the scene as a bazaar; another called it a carnival. Though Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman claimed that the breach of the fence was rife with opportunities for terrorist activity, so far it seems that the Palestinians have sought mostly to bring food and staple goods across the border. Though both Egypt and Hamas have sent police to the site, they are mostly directing traffic, and on the Israeli border, not a single rocket has been fired all day.

If this potentially volatile situation continues to unfold calmly, it will be as difficult for Israel to justify a renewed crackdown as it will for Hamas and Fatah to continue their refusal to work together. The citizens of Gaza can't meet their basic needs, and right now it seems that the government most friendly to their plight is that of Egypt, though that country too is walking a fine line. If the next few days continue peacefully, perhaps tensions will dissipate enough for the governments to at least begin to reassess.

—Casey Miner


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