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Gaza Held Hostage To Egypt's Turmoil

By       Message Ramzy Baroud     Permalink
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However, they did hope that Mubarak would open the border crossing on a more predictable basis; yet they watched in dismay as Western security experts flocked to Egypt to fortify the Gaza border even further, before all of Gaza's victims were accounted for. 

Things have not always been this bad between Gaza and Egypt. In fact, in past decades, Gazans saw a strong connection, a bond even, with historical, political, cultural and religious dimensions that made them in some respects view Egypt as their respite, their last line of defense. 

Historically, Egypt, which fought bitter wars against Israel, as other Arab countries conspired or capitulated, was in control of Gaza between 1948 and 1956, and again between 1957 and 1967. Even after the Israeli occupation of the remainder of historic Palestine, the political rapport was never severed until 1978 when president Anwar Sadat signed the Camp David Accords. A second phase of those accords put in place a "framework" that would turn Gaza, along with the West Bank into autonomous regions. 

While many in Egypt fully understand that finding a dignified and lasting resolution to the humiliation experienced by Palestinians in Gaza is a must, as they remain confined to a tiny space with no political horizon in sight, some media pundits are callously fanning the flames against the Gaza population and their government. 

They might've forgotten that it was Gazans that led the celebration of Egypt's January 25 Revolution and it was their resistance that kept the Israeli army at bay all of these years. Then, no one truly knew what sort of political outcome the revolution would usher in. Most Palestinians seemed happy that Egyptians were gasping the air of freedom, and truly believed that what was good for Egypt was as equally good for Palestine. 

It is only obvious that neither Gazans nor their government have any vested interest in destabilizing Egypt. Palestinians understand that a strong, stable Egypt would have to immediately tend to some unfinished business, one being the Gaza siege, and the other balancing out Israel's untamed military arrogance in that area. 
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Yes, Gaza has its religious zealots like any other place, but conflating that with a Hamas-Muslim Brotherhood plot to undermine the army's presence in Sinai is another unsubstantiated claim aimed solely at fomenting hate against Palestinians. 

When media reports confirmed the release of seven kidnapped Egyptian soldiers in Sinai that were received by President Mohammed Morsi at the Almatha airport on May 22, it was the Palestinians in Gaza who echoed the cheers of their brethren in Egypt. Aside from genuine gratification of their release, Gazans were also happy to see thousands of stranded passengers being allowed to cross the border after having spent six days fighting the elements and sleeping on cardboard. 

Palestinians in Gaza feel humiliated and are deeply frustrated for paying the price of Egypt's protracted political turmoil. It is time that the Muslim Brotherhood government of Morsi do some serious soul-searching and understand that Palestinians will continue to dig tunnels to survive if Cairo doesn't reach an agreement with the Gaza government that would allow for commercial exchange and humanitarian relief. 

Yes, Egypt has every right to secure its border, but certainly not at the expense of a besieged people who are tired of being subjected to "collective punishment" or being used as political fodder. Additionally, they are most certainly tired of digging tunnels to survive. 
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Ramzy Baroud is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold (more...)
 

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