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article imageGazans suffer as a result of Egyptian coup

By Ken Hanly     Jul 21, 2013 in World
Cairo - While attention is focused on events in Egypt after the coup, little notice is taken of the drastic effects regime change in Egypt has had on residents of the Gaza strip.
Whenever there is insecurity in Egypt, whoever holds power worries about radical elements in Gaza and shuts down Rafah the only crossing into Egypt from Gaza. Israel keeps crossings into its territory virtually closed all the time with only a trickle of permitted traffic. Travel by air and sea is also prohibited. There are 1.7 million Palestinians trapped in the tiny strip.
The military-backed Egyptian government closed the Rafah crossing on July 5 just two days after Morsi was turfed out, due to security concerns, hours after an assault on military and police sites in north Sinai. It remained closed for six consecutive days except for a few hours.
Gazans trying to visit their families in Egypt, return for study, or travel for medical treatment were stranded some of them with no funds or place to stay. Some Palestinians who landed at Cairo airport were detained and then expelled to wherever they had flown from at their own expense.
Yousef Aljamal, was deported to Malaysia even though he had merely stopped there on his way home from a conference in New Zealand. He was unable to be back with his family in the Gaza strip for Ramadan. After complaints from families in Gaza, the Rafah border was finally reopened on July 10 but just on a limited basis. On the first day, for example, just 400 were allowed to cross into Egypt from Gaza mostly those holding foreign passports or going to Egypt for medical care. While there were 1200 Palestinians allowed to enter back in Gaza this contrasts with a backlog estimated to be in the tens of thousands.
Even before Morsi was deposed, Egypt had been destroying more tunnels into Gaza from Egypt. Gazans depend upon these tunnels for much of their fuel and for construction materials. There are now constant fuel shortages and lack of construction materials. In the past Israel has been the party that has restricted sea access but on July 8 the Egyptian navy opened fire on a Gazan fishing boat that had ventured into Egyptian waters to get a decent catch.
The new Egyptian government seems to be reacting to rumours that Hamas has been sending in operatives to support the former Muslim Brotherhood government. There have been increased security problems in the Sinai for some time but there is no clear evidence that Hamas has anything to do with that. Palestinians and other refugees are accused of not "belonging to this pure land," Former Egyptian general Sameh Elyazai says:
"Egyptian law will punish, with sentences that could reach 25 years in jail, the Palestinians and Syrians and Iraqis who have made calls for incitement to violence at the demonstrations at Rabaa Al-Adawiya (the site of the army's recent shooting of as many as 51 pro-Morsi demonstrators) in return for money."
Government prosecutors assert that members of the Brotherhood were recruiting Palestinians and Syrians to attack pro-army demonstrators. Some polls suggest that from being a thorn in Israel's side, Palestinians are now a thorn in Egypt's side. Ironically, under the Morsi government Palestinians in Gaza were not that much better off than under Mubarak. In May, Morsi's government closed the crossing for five days. Morsi also launched a tunnel-closing campaign.. This is because in spite of differences between the military and Morsi, the military still held the balance of power. Now the military have even more control and the Gazans are even worse off.
More about Gaza strip, egypt gaza relations, rafah crossing
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