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Gaza Exodus in Reverse: Events Threatening Repercussions on Egypt's Future (photos via CBS News)
View the CBS News Photo Essay on the Gaza - Rafah situation

Gaza Exodus Threatening Repercussions on Egypt's Future - By David Eshel

January 26, 2008: These are moments of glory for Hamas. It conducted its campaign brilliantly last week, and as it seems, so far, with complete success. At no stage did Israel have sufficient response to counter the initiatives of Hamas: Its excellent intelligence community, normally capable of pinpointing Hamas leaders for targeted killings, failed to alert on the organization's preparations along Philadelphi border line separating the Gaza strip from Egypt. But in fact, not intelligence gathering, nor experts, just plain common sense was the only thing needed to realize, that breaking the barrier between besieged Palestinian Rafah and free Egyptian Rafah, was only a matter of time.

The steel wal erected by Israel in an effort to protect its soldiers patrolling the separation line between Gaza and Egypt was toppled by Hamas engineers, in an attempt to ease the Israeli blockade on the Gaza strip.
It was also an impressive engineering feat. To plan, plant, implement and execute simultaneous explosions, creating a domino effect, toppling such a strongly built infrastructure, required high level professionalism. Analysts doubt that Hamas, alone could not have done this, without professional outside help. Intelligence sources suspect, that Iranian demolition experts arrived in Gaza, mingling with the pilgrims from Hajj in Saudi Arabia three weeks ago, when Egypt allowed them, reluctantly to return, without sufficient security checks.

Hamas operatives had been sawing away the foundations of the wall between Egyptian and Palestinian Rafah for a few months, preparing it to blow it up when the time came, a source close to the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in Rafah told 'Haaretz' newspaper on Wednesday.

Explosions were set at no less than twenty points along the border fence, clear evidence of a campaign that was planned and coordinated well in advance. In destroying the wall separating the Palestinian and Egyptian sides of Rafah, Hamas chalked up another impressive, if not strategic coup. The organization demonstrated once again, that it is a disciplined, determined entity and an opponent that is exponentially more sophisticated than the Palestine Liberation Organization in Ramallah.


While thousands of Gazans spilled over into Egypt, Hamas military used the confusion to seize Egypt's strategic deep water port of Rafah on the Gaza Mediterranean coast.

But there was much more at stake here. While thousands of Gazans spilled over into Egypt, Hamas military used the confusion to seize Egypt's strategic deep water port of Rafah on the Gaza Mediterranean coast. In August 2005 the Sharon government granted Egypt naval control over the territorial waters off the Gaza Mediterranean coast up to Ashekelon. Egypt constructed a new 300-meter pier for six 300-ton naval ships on the shore of Rafah, the town which was divided by mutual agreement between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile a few miles southwest of the border, the Egyptian authorities desperately attempted to set up a more organized line of defense, trying to turn back Palestinians reaching El Arish town, halfway to the Suez Canal zone. But for thousands of Palestinians who flooded through the border breaches, it was the Eastern Mediterranean version of the ancient Bible exodus - only this time in reversed form. It opened a floodgate of people and there was no stopping them, apart from opening fire on the surging crowds, which the Egyptians could not afford.

The steel wall seperating Gaza from Egyptian Rafah. This wall erected by the Israelis collapsed by multiple explosions set by Hamas engineers.

 

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