No Requests for EU Monitors to Return to Rafiah
European Union monitors have not been asked to return to oversee operations at the Rafiah Crossing -- even though it is set to open at week's end -- abrogating an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that has been in place since 2005.
European Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) spokesman Benoit Cusin told the DPA news agency he was concerned that without EU monitors, international standards for security checks and passengers' rights might not be upheld.
The Egyptian government announced that, effective Saturday, it will reopen the border crossing daily from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., except on Fridays and holidays. This has set off concerns both in Israel and in the international community. Rafiah has long been a transfer point for terrorists, weapons, ammunitiion and drugs.
The crossing was closed in accordance with international agreements after Israel expelled nearly 10,000 of its citizens from Gaza, destroyed their homes and communities, and withdrew all of its forces.
EU monitors were deployed for the reopening of the crossing on November 25, 2005 – and they can only be redeployed at the official invitation of both Israel and the PA. Moreover, due to the current political reality, the agreement and cooperation of Egypt would also now be required, Cusin said.
Under the original agreement negotiated between Israel and the PA, the observers were to monitor the traffic through the crossing and to keep Israel informed. On-line, real-time cameras were also mounted at the site.
However, within a month, PA terrorists stormed the compound housing the EU monitors – and they fled in panic.
Eventually they returned, but again abandoned their role in July 2007 soon after the Hamas terrorist organization won a civil war against the rival Fatah faction in Gaza. The Hamas terrorists who kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in June 2006 have maintained a stranglehold over the region ever since.