Egypt Worsens Conditions for Gazans*
An interview with Miko Peled, author and peace activist, about Egypt implementing sterner restrictions at the Rafah border crossing.
The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: Egypt now is saying that it is because of the Sinai, the type of situation and lack of security there – Do you think it is related to that or is it related to something else that Rafah is basically under the control and have limited access for those people in Gaza? Peled: I don’t think it has anything to do with security, I think it has to do with the new Egyptian regime serving Israel.
They closed the tunnels. Between Gaza and Rafah there were over one thousand tunnels. The Egyptians closed most of them. These tunnels were an important life line for the people in Gaza who already before this closure suffered from a lack of proper drinking water, a lack of medicine, a lack of nutrition and so on – severe lack. And this is with the tunnels operating and with some ability to travel, although even before this there were harsh limitations on the travel to Rafah and people would often wait days upon days Egypt travel and then days upon days waiting to permits to return from Egypt to go into Rafah.
So the conditions were horrific even before all of this. Now the Egyptians I suppose have decided they are going to cooperate fully with Israel and bring a complete catastrophe on the people of Gaza.
We are talking about lack of important crucial medicines; we’re talking about a region that already suffers from lack of electricity; from severe lack of food and very little drinkable water – water fit for consumption.
It’s hard to say what would motivate any regime to act with such cruelty and impose such horrific conditions on a population of close to two million people who are already under sever conditions because of the policies of Israel.
It’s hard to understand what would motivate the Egyptians to do this other than the fact that they are cooperating and receiving something from Israel for which they are willing to do this.
Press TV: You are author of The General’s Son, a journal of an Israeli in Palestine and also you have a blog mikopeled.com. I want your perspective in general. You are saying right now as far as the Egyptian regime is working hand in hand with the Israelis – What do you think, because there are activists inside of Israel and of course many Palestinians and people all over the world that want to be able to help the Palestinians to have this siege lifted or at least have them be able to have access to Rafah Crossing. What needs to be done in your perspective in order to bring the pressure that will be needed to bring about this change to Cairo and also Tel Aviv?
Peled: That’s an excellent question. I’ll just say that I crossed through a tunnel into Gaza last January so I’ve kind of seen what it’s like in Rafah on both sides and what it’s like in Gaza – this was in January when most of the tunnels were still operating.
I think what is needed is massive protests in front of the Egyptian embassies and Israeli embassies around the world because what is happening there now is close to genocidal. The conditions in Gaza are so severe that it is close to genocidal.
How much poorer, how much hungrier, how much thirstier do people need to be? How many children have to die before somebody wakes up? How many hospitals are going to have to shut down and how many people with cancer and all kinds of disease are going o have to die before somebody pays attention?
And I think it’s important to know also that this is half an hours’ drive from major hospitals and modern cities within Israel and these horrific conditions are taking place; it’s not some remote area with no access, they have access within several minutes into areas that have food and water and medicine and everything within Israel. Gaza is right there. And so this is some kind of a cruel and unusual punishment being inflicted on the people in Gaza on Palestinians.
And people need to protest and they need to protest and boycott anything that has to do with the Egyptian state and with the State of Israel, until they listen.
“Hamas condemns the fire from Egyptian gunboats toward Palestinians within Palestinian waters, and the arrest of some of them,” the Palestinian resistance movement’s spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement.
On August 31, Egypt’s foreign ministry accused Hamas of raiding an Egyptian cultural centre in Gaza and detaining several Egyptians. And on Thursday, two Egyptian army tanks crossed an initial border fence leading to Gaza for the first time.
The Rafah crossing is Gaza’s sole gateway to the outside world as many people in the blockaded Palestinian coastal enclave avoid traveling through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing in northern Gaza.