Egypt on Saturday reopened the Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip to people but not goods after keeping it closed for more than four years.
It will be open to people for eight hours daily except Fridays and public holidays People under 18 or older than 40 will require only a visa to pass, but those between 18 and 40 will still need security clearance, crossing officials say.
Commercial traffic will continue to have to pass through border points with Israel, which controls all other access points to the area.(RFI)
The most important outcome of the "new" Egyptian policy is that Israel continues to decide how many calories people in Gaza ought to consume. Goods cannot pass through Rafah.
The second most important outcome is that Israel's policy of singling out young men, which has been in force for years in Jerusalem (men between 18 and 45 cannot visit the holy sites of Islam in Jerusalem), is now exported to Gaza. What has happened is that the "new" Egypt is becoming even more like the "old" Israel in relation to Palestinian liberty.
Finally, there is the issue of the security clearances. The file of every Palestinian man from Gaza who wants to travel will be sent by the Egyptian security services to their supervisors in Israel, to be approved or rejected.
What did change is that the new Egyptian government, unlike the Mubarak government, is afraid of its people. It therefore must use the technology of the spectacle, which Western governments are so well trained in, to confuse the people. Thus, we had a public relation stunt, consisting of "the opening of the Rafah border crossing," playing in newspapers and networks, with dramatic music and pomp. And Israel, playing its role in the spectacle, reacted with anger and fear (which is directed at Israeli Jews, who need to be scared out of their wits by the mere thought that people in Gaza would enjoy anything.) But Israel has nothing to fear from the "new" Egyptian government. That government is still Israel's best ally in the region.
Then there is the Egyptian people. The people, as an upper-class Englishman once said, is "a many headed monster" that causes folks like Netanyahu, Obama and Tantawi to wet their beds at night. Whether the people will be fooled remains to be seen.