Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rafah Attack Raises Questions of Responsibility, Stability in Gaza

 International Middle East Media Center
by Craig Harrington - IMEMC & Agencies 
One day after a devastating attack near the Rafah crossing at the Egypt-Gaza border left more than a dozen Egyptian soldiers dead, authorities are struggling with who to blame.
A relief worker calls for help in the aftermath of the Rafah attack
A relief worker calls for help in the aftermath of the Rafah attack
Sixteen Egyptian policemen were killed on Sunday during an early-morning raid near the Gaza Rafah crossing along the Egyptian border. The majority of reports claim that the attackers were Islamist militants from Gaza, but some conflicting accusations have surfaced in the two days after the attack.

Some members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt have claimed the attacks were the result of Mossad agents acting under cover as Gaza militants, reports Ma’an News. The claim requires that Israel sent its own agents on a suicide mission on the Egypt-Gaza border for the purpose of straining relations between Gaza and Egypt while also highlighting Israeli readiness to combat Palestinian terrorism.

More reputable sources have revealed that the attackers were militants who cannot be directly attached to authorities in Israel or Gaza. Hamas denounced the attack immediately and members of the Egyptian military called the attackers ‘infidels’, reports The Irish Times. Various Israeli media sources simply referred to the attackers as ‘terrorists’.

Regardless of which group is to blame for the bloodshed both Egypt and Israel have increased their military presence in the Sinai and border area. Cairo had begun relaxing its restrictions on Palestinians at the Rafah crossing just days before the attack. Many restrictions are now back in place, reports Bloomberg News.

The Egyptian military, which maintains a firm grasp of power in Cairo, has pushed back against the closer ties between the government of President Mursi, a former Muslim Brotherhood leader, and the Hamas authority in Gaza. Many Palestinians in Gaza hoped to break out of the jointly imposed Israeli-Egyptian isolation but developments have taken a major step backward with the latest security breakdown. The Rafah crossing was closed after the attack, reports Reuters, and traffic from Gaza to Egypt remains halted.