Gaza Blockade Over? Egypt Opens Border to Palestinians

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by Jason Ditz, July 22, 2012

Five years of full-scale blockade of the Gaza Strip may have finally come to an end in the wee hours of Monday morning, with Egyptian officials announcing that they are opening the border unilaterally and completely to all Palestinians, including those stuck in the strip.

Officials say that all Palestinians can enter Egypt at will now, without permits or visas, and that this will include not only those in Gaza, but Palestinians entering Egypt by plane from elsewhere and means a de facto opening of the Gaza border. Indeed the first travelers entering Egypt without this restriction were seven Palestinians who arrived by plane.

The move comes just a week and a half after the Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that he was “confident” Egypt’s President Mursi would fully open the Gaza border to trade. This opening seems even more than anyone had hoped.

Israeli officials have yet to respond to the news, but will presumably be extremely hostile to the change, as it will undermine their long-standing strategy of keeping Gazans in a state of constant siege.

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