Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Shoppers without Borders

In case you don't know yet, Palestine is currently divided into two administrative regions, with Gaza being ruled by the democratically-elected Hamas organization [who, btw, believe in shooting rockets periodically into Israel :-( ].

Since Israel controls the borders of Gaza, it has blocked all supplies into it, causing a severe shortage of food, medicine and fuel. In fact, Gaza had a blackout yesterday since their fuel ran out, after which the Israelis allowed some fuel to cross into Gaza.

Of course, the leaders of both sides remain stuck on their PoVs, GWB and his "peace-attempts" notwithstanding. But what about the people? What is a person to do when the price of things like rice go to three times the price.

Well, if you cause such a pressure, science tells us that walls might break.

And break they did. Well, one wall - the one on the border between Gaza and Egypt - has been broken.

So, what kind of violent demons infiltrated Egypt from Gaza?

Jubilant men and women crossed unhindered by border controls over toppled corrugated metal along sections of the barrier, carrying goats, chickens and crates of Coca-Cola. Some brought back televisions, car tires and cigarettes and one man even bought a motorcycle. Vendors sold soft drinks and baked goods to the crowds.

They were stocking up on goods made scarce by the Israeli blockade and within hours, shops on the Egyptian side of Rafah had run out of most of their wares. The border fence had divided the Rafah into two halves, one on the Egyptian side and one in southern Gazan.

Ibrahim Abu Taha, 45, a Palestinian father of seven, was in the Egyptian section of Rafah with his two brothers and $185 in his pocket.

"We want to buy food. We want to buy rice and sugar, milk and wheat and some cheese," Abu Taha said, adding that he would also get some cheap Egyptian cigarettes. He said he could get the food in Gaza, but at three times the price.

The Egyptian president, a big-time US ally, has said that he does not mind if the Palestinians walk into Egypt, shop, and go back - as long as they are unarmed.

I think this incident puts a human face to the crisis. Leaders from both sides, please take note, and start working to alleviate the stress. Otherwise, more frequent and more severe wall breaches might occur.

No comments:

Post a Comment