Tens of thousands of Palestinians rushed into Egypt from Gaza on Wednesday after gunmen blew up a border wall to protest an Israeli blockade, imposed after a flurry of rocket attacks by Palestinian militants. People bought cigarettes, fuel, and other supplies in Rafah, a border town, before returning home. (London Guardian)
What the commentators said
So, said The Economist in an editorial, “under the pressure of Israeli sanctions, Gaza blew a gasket.” Human rights groups had already warned Israel that conditions had grown dire under sanctions imposed when Qassam rockets began flying out of Gaza last year, but Israel closed all entry points after the attacks increased. Things may calm down now with the “pressure briefly released,” but clearly the strategy of ignoring Gaza now that it’s in the control of Hamas won’t be an option much longer.
There’s good reason to be worried about the Rafah breach, said Ed Morrissey in his Captain’s Quarters blog. “The open border between Gaza and Egypt could easily allow for heavier arms to come into the area.” At the moment, there’s no cause for Israel to launch a military offensive, but that will change the moment there’s “an uptick in weaponry” coming across the Egyptian border.
This is “Egypt's worst nightmare,” said Scott MacLeod in Time’s The Middle East blog. Worsening conditions in Gaza, which are sending refugees spilling over the border, provide a “humiliating indication that Egypt’s 1970 peace treaty with Israel has not benefited Palestinians very much.” That will give Hosni Mubarak’s “opponents a legitimate and passionate cause to take into the streets to agitate against the regime.”