Exodus in Reverse
"Speaking at the Cairo International Book fair, Mubarak told reporters that when Palestinians began breaking through the Gaza-Egypt border at Rafah in force, he told his men to let them in to buy food before escorting them out.
"'I told them to let them come in and eat and buy food and then return them later as long as they were not carrying weapons,' he said, in answer to reporters' questions.
"Mubarak said his border guards originally had forced back the Gazans on Tuesday.
"'But today a great number of them came back because the Palestinians in Gaza are starving due to the Israeli siege. Egyptian troops accompanied them to buy food and then allowed them to return to the Gaza Strip,' he added.
"Mubarak also criticized Hamas for continuing to fire missiles into Israel, saying that it was not helping the situation. He said that he had been in contact with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and helped convince him to resume fuel shipments into Gaza."
From a political standpoint, Mubarak has no choice in the matter. If his troops had acted differently, they would be contributing to Palestinian suffering in a direct way rather than just the indirect way of providing Israel with diplomatic legitimacy for which he is criticized with Egypt. His actions here are a bow to political reality from which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas should take lessons, as his people, apparently caught flat-footed, sputter that Hamas is trying to reap political benefits.
Hamas won this round even if they did manufacture the crisis, which I frankly don't believe. The world sees people suffering more than those in Sderot saved by Hamas actions. I hate Hamas, and even I have some fuzzy feelings about this. Even sources in Israel's Defense Minstry say that, "the situation did not unfold in recent days precisely as we would have wanted." On the eve of the release of the Winograd Report, Ehud Olmert led Israel full throttle into international condemnation and probably a lasting defeat in terms of its ability to control the Rafah border crossing for the near future.
(Crossposted to American Footprints)