Know More About Palestine
Wednesday Oct. 27, 2010 1:43 PM (EST+7)

Following Israelzzz*zs unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Rafah crossing has become the sole crossing through which Palestinians are allowed to enter and leave Gaza.

In 2005, control of the crossing was transferred to the Palestinian side with coordination with Egyptian officials and the presence of European monitors. It was opened under the “Agreement on Movement and Access”, which allows for the entry and exit of any Palestinian (defined as holder of a Palestinian identity).

However, the agreement stipulates that Palestinian officials provide to Israeli officials the name of any person intending to use the crossing 48 hours prior to travel. This advance notice allows Israeli authorities to permit or deny entry  on security grounds.

GOODS & TRADE

According to the text of the agreement, Palestinians are allowed to use the Rafah crossing for export of Palestinian commodities. However, Israel regularly prevents the passage of goods.

Although the agreement does not grant Israel the right to unilaterally close the crossing, Israel often manipulated a clause in the document according to which the opening can be closed in the absence of a European monitoring team. In order to be able to close the crossing in accordance with the agreement, Israel denied access to EU monitors attempting to reach Rafah crossing via Karm Abu Salem crossing.

In June 2007, Hamas took over the government in the Gaza Strip which led to the freezing of the Agreement on Movement and Access on June 10, 2007. In the 11 and a half months between the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and the canceling of the agreement, Rafah crossing was closed 86 percent of the time, reports Gisha.

On January 23, 2008, Palestinian armed men demolished parts of Gaza-Egypt border barrier near the Rafah crossing that according to UN estimation resulted in half of 1.5 million population of the Gaza Strip to cross into Egypt in search for food and supplies.

On June 1, 2010, Egyptian President Husni Mubarak ordered the opening of the border crossing to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. The order came one day after Israeli commandos raided aid flotilla bound for Gaza killing 9 peace activists.

EGYPTzzz*zS SECURITY ROLE

The canceling of the agreement placed political pressure upon Egypt, which decided to leave the crossing closed except upon special instances of humanitarian need. Several times, the border between Gaza and Egypt has been breached by Hamas authorities, claiming the need for people to travel and purchase goods. Hundreds of underground tunnels are now operating between Gaza and Egypt, as the public circumvents the largely closed Rafah crossing for its commercial needs.


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