Palestinians Must Reject Renewed Israeli Control Over Rafah Border Crossing
16 June 2014
By Khalid Amayreh
I really cannot understand why Palestinian Authority
(PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas seems so eager to
reinstate Israeli control over the Rafah Border
This week, it was reported that Abbas said during a
press interview that arrangements at the Rafah Border
Terminal ought to follow the 2005- agreement which
effectively granted Israel ultimate control over the
Gaza Strip's sole gate to the outside world.
According to that disgraceful agreement, operations at
the crossing cannot be conducted in the absence of
European observers who must be stationed on site, e.g.
inside travelers' halls.
However, since the observers themselves must commute
to the border crossing from Israel, where they are
based, the Israeli occupation authorities had a
virtually total control over their movement.
Indeed, all that Israel needed to do to close the
crossing and consequently strangulate the entire
coastal enclave, with its 1.7 million residents rather
hermetically, was to prevent the observers from
reaching the site by denying them access to it.
This was routinely done by declaring the access road
to the site a closed military zone. Very often, a
makeshift Israeli army or police roadblock would
simply turn the observers back to the nearby Israeli
settlement where they were stationed. And the European
Union wouldn't dare voice its displeasure as Israel
imposed its will on all parties involved, the PA, the
Egyptians, the Americans and the EU.
Similarly, every Palestinian or non-Palestinian
traveler had to be thoroughly screened and the videoed
screening process had to be relayed in real time to
Israeli monitors across the border. In other words,
the Israelis were able to know everything from A to Z,
even the color of the underwear worn by Palestinian
Very often, Palestinians were barred from traveling
through the crossing for unexplained "security
Needless to say these hateful and dishonorable
arrangements had a tragic toll on Palestinians. Many
ill Palestinians seeking badly-needed medical
treatment in Egypt and whose lives could have been
saved, had to die unnecessarily.
Israel deliberately kept them waiting for prolonged
periods or didn't allow them to travel due to the
usual security justification, a mantra Israel always
invokes to justify its most diabolical whims against
and criminal treatment of its Palestinian victims.
It is really hard to describe the pain and agony
Gazans had to endure during that bleak period.
Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership of Mahmoud
Abbas viewed these scandalous arrangements as more
than acceptable as evidenced by the plethora of
statements made by the Ramallah leadership, demanding
the reinstitution of the 2005-agreement.
Indeed, the indescribable suffering meted out to our
people traveling through the Rafah border crossing
meant very little to Abbas and those around him. This
eventually led to ousting of Abbas's militias from
Gaza in 2007.
Once again, it is difficult to fathom Abbas's
insistence that Palestinians had to sacrifice their
freedom as well as personal and national dignity to
satiate the Israeli thirst for tormenting and
humiliating our people.
Does he want to obtain another certificate of good
conduct from them? Does he want to demonstrate to
Israel and her guardian-ally, the United States that
the PA does abide by signed agreements even though
Or perhaps he wants to play the sycophancy card by
showing that he is more sensitive to Israel's security
whims than he is to the safety, security and honor of
his own people!
To conclude, Abbas and those around him must
understand that the Palestinian people's right to
respect and to a dignified treatment at border
crossings overrides whatever "duty" he feels he is
bound by to appease and please the Israelis and their
He must also understand that thousands of Palestinians
paid with their blood the price for the relative
freedom from Israeli intervention and interference at
the Rafah terminal.
For God's sake let us not bring back these black days.
Israel, after all, is supposed to have left Gaza for
good. It has absolutely no right to exist at the Rafah
terminal, an exclusively Palestinian-Egyptian
Finally, I would like to add the following: If Abbas
succumbed to Israeli blackmail on this relatively
minor matter, wouldn't he capitulate to the Zionist
arrogance and insolence on the more paramount issues
such as Jerusalem and the right of return?
Khalid Amayreh is a veteran Palestinian journalist
and political commentator living in occupied Palestine