US Activist; heightened restrictions at Rafah border days after 'permanent' opening no surprise

It only took five days after the media hype of a 'permanent' opening of the Rafah border for Egyptian authorities to reinstate intensified restrictions on who can or cannot exit or enter Palestine.
By: Aishah Schwartz
Aishah Schwartz at Rafah border May 15, 2011.
Aishah Schwartz at Rafah border May 15, 2011.
June 1, 2011 - PRLog -- CAIRO, EGYPT (MWA-Net) -- Similar to what transpired in mid-May when access was closed-off to roadways that would have delivered tens-of-thousands to the Rafah border in commemoration of the 63rd Nakba, a mere four days after the 'permanent' re-opening of the border, Egypt has once again heightened restrictions determining who will cross and who will not.  

What triggered the sudden turn-around? Here is how the story unfolds:  

Monday, May 30, 2011: "Abbas in Egypt for talks with military leader" - Abbas in Egypt for talks with military leader - During the talks, the Palestinian president thanked Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi for opening the Rafah crossing, the only border with Gaza that bypasses Israel, in a bid to ease the blockade on the strip.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011: "Egypt activists reject talks with ruling party" - 1,000 representatives of groups were invited, and in a joint statement, 23 groups, coalitions and parties, announced they would boycott the meeting, demanding an end to military trials of civilians prior to any dialogue.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011: "Egypt limits crossings at Gaza border" - Egypt reimposed restrictions at the Rafah crossing from Gaza on Wednesday, days after permanently opening it.

On the same day, and because Egypt still doesn't breathe without approval of the U.S. government, a friendly reminder:  

Wednesday, June 1, 2011: "Assistance to Egypt" - The United States is committed to assisting Egypt with its needs for economic recovery, free and fair elections, and overall stability.

End game.

Below is what Abbas was really talking about with Egyptian Military Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi on Monday - and why people, including journalists, have been turned away from the border this week:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011: "Palestinians gear for Sunday march on Israel's borders" - Pro-Palestinian pages on social media websites buzzing with calls to rush to all borders on day marking 44th anniversary of Six Day War, Sunday, June 5.,7340,L-4076728,00.html

Why June 5 Matters:

Not to say, "I told you so..." but I told you nothing had changed at the Rafah border.

U.S. Activist reviews May 28 Rafah border changes – embargo remains (May 28 -

In follow-up to my prior report on 'changes' at the Rafah border, please also note the following:

Egyptians are also still banned from crossing, except by 'special government' permission and generally only if the applicant has family ties to Gaza.

Foreigners such as American or European aid workers (and others) also require special permission to cross, including a letter from the embassy of their home country.

I was informed by an American law student studying in Oregon, who arrived to Egypt in the hope of reaching Gaza for an internship related to his university studies, that the 'special permission' required of foreigners is an Affidavit acknowledging that the citizen national has read their government's travel warning(s) and that they are fully aware that once they've exited Egypt no consular service will be available to them.

Fee for the Affidavit/Waiver at the U.S. Embassy is $50USD (equivalent to 300LE Egypt) payable only in U.S. currency (check your embassy of origin for fee amount).

However, even with signed Affidavit in hand the University student from Oregon returned tonight for the second time this week from the Rafah border - barred from entering Palestine.

The embargo on Gaza continues. Palestinians are still refugees and prisoners.

And this is only one of the reasons the Egyptian revolution wages on.

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Aishah Schwartz, a Muslim American, is an internationally renowned human rights activist and writer focusing on the rights of Muslim women and the plight of the Palestinian people affected by the Israeli imposed illegal embargo on Gaza. Full biography here:
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Page Updated Last on: Dec 16, 2012
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