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Observers at Rafah crossing opening ceremony Photo: Reuters
Observers at Rafah crossing opening ceremony Photo: Reuters

EU monitors flee Gaza crossing

European observers at Rafah crossing take off due to wave of PA abductions; crossing closed

Ali Waked
Latest Update: 03.14.06, 19:36 / Israel News

Fearing for their safety: European monitors at the Rafah crossing left their posts Tuesday afternoon, Palestinian sources reported.


The Europeans apparently decided to leave the crossing after being instructed to do so in light of fears for their safety, after more than a dozen foreign nationals were abducted in the Gaza Strip and West Bank in protest of the IDF's Jericho operation Tuesday.


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Israeli security officials are closely monitoring the situation, as Rafah constitutes the major crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, with developments in the area possibly affecting Israel. At this time, the army is not preparing to enter the area, but military officials spoke of concerns that Palestinian mobs, including many gunmen, will arrive at the site and breach the fence separating Gaza and Egypt.


At this time, Israel and Egypt are maintaining their security coordination, with both parties exchanging information regarding developments at the crossing. Palestinian police officers in the area, however, are not working to prevent disorder at the site.


Notably, the Kerem Shalom and Rafah crossings are manned, among others, by Italian and British representatives.


The Rafah crossing was inaugurated last November in a festive ceremony. The crossing operates under joint Egyptian-Palestinian management and under European Union supervision.


The crossing was opened after intensive negotiations between Israel and the PA and under American pressure.


The Rafah crossing is used as point of entry for PA citizens into Gaza, and the PA informs Israel in advance when diplomats, foreign investors, and "humanitarian cases" need to cross.


In addition to leaving the Rafah crossing, EU supervisors also left the Kerem Shalom crossing, in the southern Gaza Strip. The crossing is used for transporting cargo to and from the PA.


Israel expressed its dissatisfaction in the past with security measures at the crossings, and Tuesday's events raised fears the situation at Gaza border crossings could further deteriorate.


Hanan Greenberg contributed to the report


First Published: 03.14.06, 18:22


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