The Wall Separating Gaza and Egypt

Comment and analysis from Toronto, Jerusalem, London, Tel Aviv, Cape Town and Beirut, January 10, 2006

Masked militants of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, an offshoot of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party, use a bulldozer to plough through a section of a concrete wall on the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip last week in Rafah. (Photo: Said Khatib / AFP-Getty Images)

While there is much discussion about the wall between Israel and Gaza, there is little information about the wall that separates Gaza from Egypt. As international attention turned to Jerusalem, where Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was hospitalized with a debilitating brain hemorrhage, events of the same day in Gaza were noteworthy.

TORONTO — CBC/Radio Canada (Public broadcaster), Canada, Jan. 4: Hundreds of Palestinians crossed into Egypt on Wednesday after militants, angry at the jailing of their leader, stole two bulldozers and smashed through the wall separating Gaza and Egypt … The bulldozers smashed two holes at the same spot where Hamas militants blasted through the towering concrete barrier during the border chaos following Israel's Gaza pullout. Palestinian security officials had closed the earlier hole with heavy concrete blocks, but those quickly gave way before the bulldozer … As many as 300 Palestinians crossed into Egypt after the wall was smashed, an Egyptian security official said. Brig. Adel Fawzi, director of criminal investigation for North Sinai, said border police were unable to stop the intruders because they had no orders to shoot … Thousands of Egyptian Interior Ministry troops headed to the border. An Egyptian armored vehicle was set on fire and at least three Palestinians were reported injured, one seriously when an Egyptian troop carrier crushed him against a wall, witnesses said.

JERUSALEM — The Jerusalem Post (Conservative, English-language), Israel, Jan. 10: In the incident at the border crossing last Wednesday, two Egyptian border guards were killed and at least 30 were wounded when scores of Fatah gunmen opened fire at Egyptian army posts. They first demolished parts of the concrete slabs along the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, enabling many Palestinians to cross into Egypt … Eyewitnesses said the gunmen used a bulldozer and explosives to create a hole in the wall. Egyptian border guards and Palestinian Authority policemen fired into the air in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent Palestinians from infiltrating into Egypt, they added.

LONDON — Al-Quds al-Arabi (Palestinian expatriate), Britain, Jan. 9: Egypt threatened to withdraw its support for the Palestinian Authority if the P.A. did not act to control the rampant anarchy in the Gaza Strip, according to a report in the London Arab newspaper … The report claimed that following the incident at the Rafah border crossing in which two Egyptian soldiers were killed, Egyptian authorities delivered the threat to P.A. Chairman Mahmoud Abbas as part of a specially delivered message … Egypt also threatened to withdraw its support for the peace process if the P.A. did not take the proper steps to restore order to Gaza.

TEL AVIV — Ha'aretz (Liberal), Israel, Jan. 9: Egypt agreed on Sunday to reopen its border with Gaza Strip after Palestinian militants reached an agreement with European officials in which they promised to keep the area calm … During the incident, two bulldozers driven by Al-Aqsa militants demolished segments of the wall separating Gaza from Egypt … The border was closed last Thursday after Palestinian gunmen belonging to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, the Fatah party's military wing, shot dead two Egyptian police officers and injured some 20 others … The Palestinian Authority declared the two Egyptian officers killed in the incident as martyrs of the Palestinian cause.

CAPE TOWN — (Online news source), South Africa, Jan. 10: Egyptian security officials said on Thursday that more than 60 Palestinians had been arrested and charged with illegal entry … The Palestinian and Egyptian security officials spoke on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to speak to the media … Officials at Cairo airport said two of the 30 Egyptian border troops who were wounded on Wednesday had been flown to Cairo for treatment, as their injuries were severe … The foreign ministry said that Egypt "strongly condemned" the actions of "an irresponsible group of Palestinians" at Rafah crossing on Wednesday … The ministry said the riot constituted "unwarranted and unprecedented violence" that not only harmed the Palestinians, but also "weakened efforts to support the Palestinian people in their efforts to establish an independent state."

BEIRUT — The Daily Star (Independent, English-language), Lebanon, Jan. 6: Egypt had no more than the usual security presence at the crossing Thursday but, a short distance away, 20 police vehicles were parked in the main street of Rafah town, ready to be deployed … President Mahmoud Abbas "sent a message of apology and condolences to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and to the Egyptian Army and people," his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said … Security forces Thursday filled in the hole in Gaza's only link with the outside world.

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