Israel and the Egyptian-Gazan Border

, December 12, 2008

CAMERA has put out an excellent summary of the status of border controls along the Egyptian-Palestinian border of Gaza. As the CAMERA piece notes, Gaza has three land borders: two with Israel (north and east) and one with Egypt (south). Israeli forces withdrew from the southern border in 2005 and have not retaken control, and the border crossing at Rafah, along the Egyptian border with Gaza, is controlled by Egypt and the Palestinians (subject to European monitoring), without an Israeli presence. At the time of Israel’s withdrawal, and the agreement leading to the European monitoring, Palestinian Authority official Saeb Erekat acknowledged that the Palestinians would be running the border “by ourselves” and “Israel does not have a veto over our ability to do so.”
The existence of the Gazan-Egyptian border is exceptionally inconvenient for those who want to argue, contrary to the plain facts, that Israel controls all entry and exit into Gaza and therefore “occupies” Gaza or that by closing the Israeli-Gazan border, Israel is turning Gaza into a “prison” and thereby “collectively punishing” Palestinians. This leaves Israel’s foes to cast around for conspiracy theories in order to assign guilt to Israel. For example, Human Rights Watch’s Sarah Leah Whitson excuses her organization’s claims of collective punishment and Israeli occupation of Gaza on the grounds that Israel is “blocking all borders” to Gaza “through its pressure on Egypt.” Amnesty International, more mysteriously, simply asserts that “Israeli authorities … clos[ed] the border between Gaza and Egypt.” And, of course, there’s always the standby of denying or whitewashing the facts.

About Abraham Bell

Dr. Avi Bell of the Faculty of Law of Bar-Ilan University is currently a visiting professor at the University of San Diego. He specializes in international law, particularly the laws of war. Dr. Bell served in an IDF reserve paratrooper brigade in combat in the Second Lebanon war.