International

Egypt To Open Border Crossing With Gaza On Saturday

"Egypt's official news agency says the Rafah border crossing with Gaza will be permanently opened for Palestinians on Saturday," The Associated Press reports, adding that the decision "will significantly ease a blockade of the impoverished territory."

The word came from Egypt's official news agency, AP says.

Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi said back on April 29 that this would soon happen. And at that time, as al-Jazeera wrote, "a senior official in Jerusalem said Israel was 'very concerned' about the implications of the Rafah crossing being open. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said Hamas had already built up a 'dangerous military machine' in northern Sinai which could be further strengthened by opening Rafah."

Earlier this month, NPR's Peter Kenyon reported that "from friendlier signals toward Iran to chillier moves toward Israel, Cairo is showing signs of independence not seen under [former President Hosni] Mubarak. While nothing is certain, neighboring Israel seems the most likely to feel the changes of a new Egyptian foreign policy."

And, Peter noted:

"There are many reasons Egyptians grew sick of the strong ruling hand of Mubarak, but few aroused more public disgust than Egypt's assistance in the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip.

"In 2008, during one of the periodic humanitarian crises Gazans were enduring, Egyptian truck driver Rafat Imam put it this way: 'It's shameful what's happening over there. Egypt has in its power to do many things, many things to help. The first thing it has to do is to open the border and allow the wounded to get medical treatment. That's the least they can do.' "

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