Egypt and the Gaza Blockade: How Escalating the Conflict is Worsening the Humanitarian Crisis

Sent On: 
Mon, 2017-11-27
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June of this year marked ten years of Egypt and Israel’s blockade on Gaza. In contrast to the Balfour Declaration’s November 2 centennial, this occasion prompted little discussion, if at all. It was almost as if the world had altogether forgotten.



Beit Hanoun, Gaza. Courtesy “badwanart0” CC0 1.0


The decade-long shutdown and isolation of Gaza from the international community has led to a humanitarian catastrophe: “For 10 years the siege has unlawfully deprived Palestinians in Gaza of their most basic rights and necessities. […] the economy has sharply declined and humanitarian conditions have deteriorated severely,” said Amnesty International's Magdalena Mughrabi.


After clashes occurred between militants and the Egyptian military, and the attack on a Sufi mosque in Sinai with more than 300 casualties on November 24, it is unlikely that the Rafah border will be open for civilians in the near future.


According to Egyptians, it seems that the full responsibility for the decade-long humanitarian crisis in Gaza is attributed exclusively to Israel. Israel still appears to be the Grand Trauma of the Muslim World.


That Israel started the blockade is undeniably true, the rest only to a certain extent. Just because one country illegitimately enforces an inhuman blockade, that does not justify another country doing the same.


In my opinion, the claim that the shutdown of the Rafah border is related to “security concerns” is of little legitimacy, given the fact that attacks on military personnel are indeed more in North Sinai but also continue to occur throughout Egypt.


In this commentary, I criticize the Egyptian government’s choice to further escalate the precarious situation, possibly driving even more people into the clutches of terrorists and violent Islamists, instead of doing everything possible to de-escalate the already polarized situation.


In fact, Egypt has been complicit in the continuation of atrocities against the people of Gaza, for several years. Yet, the Egyptian government has the opportunity to work towards peaceful change every day, simply by implementing a different border policy.


Read the full commentary here.


Cairo, 27 November 2017


Jasper A. Kiepe,

Journalism Intern