According to the leadership of Hamas, the new Egyptian government is imposing the same unfair conditions on the Gaza Strip as those experienced under former president Hosni Mubarak.
Fathi Hamad, interior minister of the deposed Hamas government, said, “We suffered a great deal during Mubarak’s reign. But why do we still have to suffer in the time of revolution and democracy in Egypt?
“The Egyptian leadership is urged to reopen the Rafah crossing to ease the suffering of the Palestinians who wish to travel — including students, patients, residency-permit holders and pilgrims,” Hamad said in a statement posted on the Interior Ministry website.
Hamad has also urged President Morsi to make an immediate decision to re-open the Rafah crossing in both directions for 24 hours a day.
“Is it the fault of Gaza that the noose is being tightened around its neck, while you open your crossing to the occupying enemy? If you cannot see Palestine before your eyes, then you must embark on a different path and a different direction,” Hamad said. “We urge President Mohammed Morsi — the head of the Egyptian revolution, the courageous decision-maker who speaks the truth — to make a decision with immediate effect to open the Rafah crossing.”
The senior Hamas official added that “the closure of the Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip has resulted in various crises and major damage that has weighed heavily on citizens.”
Hamad has also called upon Egypt to “never go back," in reference to the idea that revolutionary Egypt must embrace the Palestinian cause. “Palestine and Egypt have been one integral entity ever since the beginning of history,” he said.
Hamad stressed that the “Rafah crossing is the only outlet for the Gaza Strip, which suffered greatly from the blockade policy that was repeatedly imposed during the reign of Mubarak. The solution to most problems in the Gaza Strip lies in permanently opening the crossing and establishing a free-trade zone between Egypt and Palestine. This would put an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people and the ongoing blockade that has been imposed for six years.”
Hamad noted that closing the Rafah crossing would only worsen the current situation, as the list of travelers in the interior minister’s records now numbered tens of thousands of travelling applications.
“Egypt’s security is our own security. What harms it, harms us as well,” he said. “We understand its right to secure its border and impose its sovereignty, but we hope that it will not further oppress Gaza and its people.”
Furthermore, he said that Egypt must permanently open the Rafah crossing for goods and traffic, before destroying the network of underground smuggling tunnels which constitute “the lifeblood of besieged Gaza.” He denied all claims that Gaza was involved in last week’s attack against Egyptian military recruits.
“Some remnants of the former regime are trying to wrongly accuse Gaza, to safeguard the blockade on the Strip and to serve the goals of the occupation forces,” he said.