Friday, September 16, 2011

Time for people power to open Rafah crossing

Haidar Eid
The Electronic Intifada

15 September 2011

"The wolf is more merciful than my brothers - Mahmoud Darwish

Writing about the Rafah crossing, after the spectacular success of the Egyptian revolution in ousting Hosni Mubarak, brings back the horrific memory of the deposed dictator’s regime. There were high expectations amongst the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza earlier this year after former Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil el-Arabi described the Mubarak government’s complicity with Israel in besieging Gaza as “disgraceful.”

This was followed on 29 May by an official announcement by the Egyptian government that the Rafah crossing would be permanently opened. Palestinians with passports would be allowed to cross into Egypt every day from 9am to 5pm, except for Fridays and holidays. Palestinian women and children would be able to leave Gaza without restrictions, while men between the ages of 18 and 40 would have to obtain visas to enter Egypt. Despite these conditions, and even though the free flow of goods and materials would not be allowed, Palestinians in Gaza welcomed this move.

This decision, however, was implemented for only two days.....

We Palestinians are engaged in a national liberation struggle and the context in Gaza, especially during and after the massacre, requires a complete paradigm shift in our understanding of the tools of struggle and the political program that is to be used. It is the time of people power as evidenced on the streets of Cairo, Damascus, Sana’a, Manama and Tunis. The people of Egypt with the Palestinians of Gaza can open the crossing permanently and unconditionally, regardless of what Israel and its backers in the White House and 10 Downing Street think. Their man in Sharm El-Sheikh is behind bars, thanks to the sacrifices and courage of ordinary people like Khaled Said and Ahmed al-Shahat and the men, women and children of Gaza who managed to tear down the cement walls on the Palestinian-Egyptian borders twice.

There are lessons to learn from Gaza 2009. We have lost faith in the so-called international community that claims to uphold international law, as their representatives such as the UN, EU and the Arab League by and large have remained silent in the face of atrocities committed by apartheid Israel. They are therefore on the side of Israel.....

The closing of the Palestinians of Gaza’s only exit to the outside world amounts to a crime against humanity, given the Israeli siege and ongoing bombardment of Gaza. Egypt has a moral and political obligation to open the Rafah crossing permanently and around the clock. Egypt cannot continue to support opportunistic interpretations of international law that justify the ongoing deprivation of medicine, milk, food and other essentials to the population of Gaza.

The sanctity of human lives should take precedence over borders and treaties and solidarity activists need to take the lead in making this point to the Egyptian and other governments.....

No misinterpretation of international law can override Palestinians’ right to free movement in and out of Egypt just because they are also at the same time engaged in a struggle against Israeli occupation, colonization and apartheid."

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