A few Israel Defense Forces Engineering Corps officers surely shed a tear yesterday while viewing the television reports from Rafah: The barrier built by the IDF with blood and sweat along the Philadelphi Route, on the Gaza Strip border with Egypt, was coming down.
It was, apparently, the final remnant of Israel’s years of occupying the Strip. But Israel has better reasons to be worried by what happened yesterday. In destroying the wall separating the Palestinian and Egyptian sides of Rafah, Hamas chalked up a real coup. Not only did the organization demonstrate once again that it is a disciplined, determined entity, and an opponent that is exponentially more sophisticated than the Palestine Liberation Organization. It also took the sting out of the economic blockade plan devised by Israel’s military establishment, an idea whose effectiveness was doubtful from the beginning but whose potential for international damage was not.
Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority are now forced to find a new joint border control arrangement, one that will probably depend on the good graces of Hamas. If the PA is indeed interested in taking responsibility for the border crossings, as Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has declared, it will have to negotiate with Hamas even though President Mahmoud Abbas is trying to avoid that at any cost. The other option – to leave the border untended – is even worse. [complete article]
See also, Sick Gazans rush Egypt’s chemists (AFP), Hole in the wall provides relief from misery of Israeli blockade (The Independent), and Churches decry Israel’s treatment of Gaza (Christian Post).
Editor’s Comment — In the cable TV/Israeli/neocon/Bush administration narrative, Hamas is a terrorist organization. So is al Qaeda. But here’s the difference — and this is one of the many reasons why the label “terrorist” explains so little and obscures so much. What Hamas did, al Qaeda would have found technically challenging and conceptually impossible.