Egypt tried to close its border with the Gaza Strip on Friday, but Hamas militants bulldozed fresh holes in the border wall as Palestinian crowds cheered. Hamas, which controls Gaza, blew more than a dozen holes in the security wall this week to protest an Israeli blockade that was tightened after a surge in rockets fired from Gaza into Israel. (Reuters)
What the commentators said
It looked a lot like the collapse of the Berlin Wall, said Scott MacLeod in Time’s The Middle East blog, as tens of thousands of Palestinians, “joyful to have the chance to breathe again,” streamed over the border to buy goods they can no longer get at home. But that’s as far as the analogy goes, as they’ll soon be “caged” again by the Egyptian and Israeli forces that surround them, and their Islamist Hamas leaders’ refusal to make peace with Israel.
Actually, Hamas “chalked up a real coup” by blasting through the wall, said Avi Issacharoff in Israel’s Haaretz. It reminded everyone that Hamas controls Gaza, and that it is “a disciplined, determined entity” that is an “exponentially more sophisticated opponent” for Israel than the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Now Israel will have to reach a new border agreement with Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, and the deal will have to have the blessing of Hamas.
It’s dangerous and disgraceful to use 1.5 million Palestinians as pawns, said The New York Times in an editorial (free registration). “The Bush administration, the Israelis, and many in Fatah have hoped that squeezing Gaza ever more tightly would force Palestinians there to turn away from Hamas,” and Hamas is putting its people in harm’s way by using Gaza to bombard Israel daily. “If something isn’t done quickly to address the Gazans’ plight, President Bush’s Annapolis peace process could implode.”
Hamas could end the Palestinians’ suffering in an instant, said the New York Post in an editorial (free registration), if it would only renounce terrorism. “Yet the international community blames not Hamas, but Israel, for the resulting crisis.” This just plays right along with “the terrorists’ game.”