Recent calls for lifting the “siege” on the Gaza Strip have ignored that Hamas’s main demand, even more than for an airport or seaport, is that Egypt reopen the Rafah border crossing, the Palestinians’ only gateway to the Arab world.
Hamas wants open borders because it wants to pursue its ultimate goal of “liberating all Palestine, from the river to the sea.” Now that it has lost most of its smuggling tunnels as a result of Egyptian military operations, Hamas is searching for other ways to bring weapons into the Gaza Strip.
Hamas’s leaders know that their chances of getting an airport or a seaport are extremely low. In the past, material brought into Gaza has included mainly weapons, cement taken to build attack-tunnels into Israel, and dual-use material.
Much of this was either brought into Gaza through smuggling tunnels, or else through Egypt’s Rafah terminal, along its Gaza border which is nearly nine miles [14 km] long.
Egypt’s Rafah terminal with Gaza, however, has been closed most of the time since Hamas seized control over the Gaza Strip in July 2007, while border crossings with Israel, such as Kerem Shalom and Erez, have remained open. [...]
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