Egypt has decided to open its border with Gaza, following an Israeli raid on six ships. Linda Gradstein, reporting for NPR, says that, "if the border stays open, it will be a victory for the Islamist Hamas movement, which controls Gaza."
Earlier today, the Interior Ministry, run by Hamas, issued a statement, saying that the Rafah border crossing will remain open every day, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Dozens of Palestinians rushed to the border, waiting to be allowed into Egypt, Gradstein reports. Gaza only has two exits: one to Israel, the other to Egypt.
The border crossing has been opened only sporadically since Israel imposed a blockade on the Hamas government four years ago. Recently, Egypt has cracked down on the smuggling of everything from guns to car parts through a network of tunnels between Gaza and the country.
Yesterday, Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned "the killings committed by the Israeli Forces the morning of May the 31st onboard one of the ships of the convoy which was heading to Gaza to break the Israeli siege imposed on it."
The Spokesman expressed his grief and sympathy to the victims' families who loss [sic] their lives in order to support the Palestinian people and its cause.
The Egyptian move comes amid harsh international criticism of Israel. At an emergency meeting yesterday, the United Nations Security Council condemned the raid and called for an impartial investigation into the incident.
In turn, Avigdor Liberman, Israel's foreign minister, criticized the Security Council's statement. "The Security Council resolution is unacceptable and contributes nothing to the promotion of peace and stability in the Middle East," he said.
Israel says the violence was "pre-planned," and the flotilla was warned repeatedly that "the Gaza region is closed to maritime traffic." On its website, the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs also points to "a cache of weapons used to violently attack the soldiers," discovered by Israeli Defense Forces.
Ban speaking outside of the International Criminal Court in Kampala, Uganda, had called on Israel to explain itself:
I am shocked by reports of killings and injuries of people on the boats carrying supplies for Gaza, apparently in international waters, in the early hours of this morning. I condemn this violence. We do not yet know the full facts yet. More than ten people appeared to have been killed and many more wounded. It is vital that there is a full investigation to determine exactly how this bloodshed took place. I believe Israel must urgently provide a full explanation.
Another vessel is expected to attempt to run the blockade today or tomorrow.