By Khaled Abu Toameh for the Gatestone Institute (Dec 12):
- It was recently reported that the commander of the Islamic State (ISIS) branch in Sinai held talks in the Gaza Strip with leaders of Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezaddin al-Qassam Brigades, about expanding their cooperation.
- President Abbas does not seem to care whether the Palestinians of Gaza are turned into hostages and prisoners. He is probably hoping that the crisis will drive Palestinians to revolt against the Hamas regime, paving the way for his PA to return to the Gaza Strip.
- Instead of trying to solve the Gaza crisis, Abbas is too busy waging a diplomatic war against Israel. He wants to file “war crimes” charges against Israel with the International Criminal Court — ignoring the fact that he and Hamas are responsible for the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza.
- The Palestinians ignore the fact that their biggest tragedy over the past few decades has been (and remains) their failed and corrupt leadership that is willing to sacrifice them for its own interests.
Since June 2013, the Rafah border crossing, the sole crossing point between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, has been closed for most of the time.
Since the beginning of 2015, the Egyptian authorities have opened the Rafah terminal for a total of only 21 days.
Last week, the Egyptians opened the border crossing for two days, allowing a few hundred Palestinians to cross in both directions.
Last year, by contrast, the terminal was open for a total of 123 days, and in 2013 for 263 days.
These figures indicate that the Egyptians have stepped up security measures along their shared border with the Gaza Strip over the past few years.
In addition to the continued closure of the Rafah terminal, the Egyptian army continues to destroy dozens of smuggling tunnels between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. In recent weeks, the Egyptians have been pumping seawater into the tunnels, causing most of them to collapse.
The Egyptians have good reason to be concerned about the smuggling tunnels — especially in light of increased Islamist terror attacks against Egyptian soldiers and civilians in the Sinai Peninsula. Reports about cooperation between Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and the Islamist terror groups in Sinai, have also prompted the Egyptians to keep the Rafah terminal shut for most of the time.