Israel re-opens Rafah crossing, but refuses to lift siege on Palestinian towns
An Israeli-controlled crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip reopened Tuesday, after several weeks of closure, the Israeli military said. The Rafah crossing is the main gateway in and out of Gaza Strip for Palestinian travelers. It was closed after a Palestinian attack killed several Israeli soldiers at a nearby outpost.
Meanwhile, Israel is refusing to lift its draconian siege of Palestinian towns and population centers as demanded by the Palestinian Authority and the international community.
According to Israeli sources, Israel's defense minister Shaul Mofaz told PA official Muhammed Dahlan during their meeting in Tel Aviv late Monday that the Israeli occupation army would continue to surround Palestinian towns with tanks even if the two sides reached a ceasefire.
The meeting focused on the handover of "security responsibility" in five Palestinian towns (Bethlehem, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Jericho and Tulkarm) to the PA.
Dahlan reportedly asked Mofaz to lift the siege on Palestinian towns, including the so-called "humiliation roadblocks" outside Palestinian population centers. However, Mofaz rejected the request, saying the roadblocks were necessary for security considerations.
© 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)