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Rafiah Crossing to Re-Open Amid More Rocket Fire

The Rafiah border will be open for four hours Sunday while on-line surveillance cameras are tested, according to Arab sources. Meanwhile Arab terrorists shot three more rockets. No one was injured.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 11/5/2005, 9:19 PM / Last Update: 11/5/2005, 10:09 PM

Saturday's preparations for re-opening the crossing came the same day Arab terrorists shot two Kassam rockets which exploded at an IDF base near the Erez crossing adjacent to northern Gaza. No injuries were reported. A third rocket misfired Saturday night and landed in the Gaza area.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorists, associated with the Fatah party which dominates the Palestinian Authority (PA), claimed responsibility for the attacks on the army base.

The International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC), an independent Arab news service, reported Saturday evening that the surveillance cameras will be tested Sunday in the presence of European Union (EU) observers who arrived in Rafiah Saturday. It added that the crossing will be opened on a full-time basis on November 25.

The city of Rafiah, a long-time transfer point for drugs, ammunition and weapons smuggling from Egypt, straddles the Gaza-Egypt border. It was closed according to agreements accompanying the IDF withdrawal from the Gaza area after the expulsion of Jewish residents in August and the subsequent demolition of Jewish communities. Egyptian authorities failed to prevent Hamas terrorists from exploding holes in the border's barrier, enabling a free flow of citizens, merchandise, drugs, terrorists and weapons during several days of chaos before the border was more tightly secured.

The Cabinet agreed in late October to back down from the government's former insistence on an Israeli presence at the crossing, and to rely instead on surveillance cameras. Israel has been under heavy pressure by the United States and Quartet envoy James Wolfensohn to re-open the crossing. The PA has objected to the presence of the cameras but apparently has relented to the Israeli condition.

The EU delegation includes French technicians who already have installed the observation devices, according to IMEMC. Luisa Morgantini, head of the investment committee in the European Parliament, said that the EU observers would not have any security authority. Israel has said it wants the observers to be able to interfere immediately in dangerous security situations.