Egypt Joins Israel in Blocking Gaza
Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.—Joshua 6:1
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It is remarkably easy to vilify the tunnels; Israel keeps presenting them as an apparatus of terror (see large image below) while purposely hiding the fact that the tunnels exist due to its imposed siege on Gaza, since Hamas came to power there in 2007. The list of items banned from being imported into Gaza is as ridiculous as it is worrying.
Cu Chi, Gaza
In one aspect, the comparison between South Vietnam and Israel is wrong. Israel is tiny; the entire Gaza Strip is probably smaller than the area dug by North Vietnam in Cu Chi and related sites. Yet, the Palestinians are prolific. The Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty split the city of Rafah into two halves; between them is a buffer zone known as the "Philidelphi Corridor" which was under Israeli military control until 2005. Following Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, the Philidelphi Corridor was placed under the control of the Palestine Authority after the Battle of Gaza in 2007. Since then, it has been administered by the Hamas administration, which after winning the general elections, controls Gaza. The difficulties in transferring goods across the border led to the creation of tunnels connecting the city parts. They are dug by individual contractors from basements of houses or olive groves at depths of up to 15 meters, and reach up to 800 meters in length. In 2009, Egypt began construction of an underground barrier to block existing tunnels and make new ones harder to make, but due to the turmoil in that country it has not been finished. Official estimates claim that about one thousand tunnels are active. They bring an estimated 30% of all goods that reach the Strip.
Following the fall of the Mubarak regime, the Egyptian army took direct control of the issue. At first, it looked as if Egypt had recognized Palestinian independence. In the last week of April 2011, the Israeli Army Radio reported that the Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces General Sami Anan warned Israel against interfering with Egypt's plan to open the Rafah Border Crossing with Gaza on a permanent basis, saying it was not a matter of Israel's concern. Soon afterwards, Egypt tightened its control of Sinai, including the introduction of military forces with Israeli permission and the carrying out of airstrikes in the peninsula for the first time since 1973. Yet, it seemed that they would allow Palestinians to overcome the Israeli siege on them, by allowing the regular transfer of merchandise into Gaza. Against all odds, the Islamist regime currently ruling Egypt, reversed the process.
Gaza has become an Egyptian colony; it depends on the goods passed through the tunnels. On February 18, Essam Haddad, National Security Adviser to President Mohamed Morsi told Reuters, "We don't want to see these tunnels used for illegal means of smuggling either people or weapons that can really harm Egyptian security." This was after Egypt flooded tunnels in an attempt to block them. It is unclear how many people died in the ruthless process. Cairo claims that gunmen crossed into Egypt via the Gaza tunnels; this is denied by the Palestinians. Haddad emphasized that President Mohamed Morsi would respect the 1979 peace treaty with Israel and that daily cooperation with Israel continued as normal. "We want to strengthen our western border," Haddad said, claiming that this was Egypt's top security priority now.
It is remarkably easy to vilify the tunnels while making accusations that had never been proven; governments are expert in the latter. They believe they owe no explanations to the People. It is easier to have relations with another government, no matter how evil, than with the almost two million people oppressed by that government. It is difficult for governments to respect basic human rights, like safe access to food, water and building materials; it is easier to drown unsuspecting humans than taking care of their access to safe water. Isn't that so, President Mursi?
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