In Gaza, Moussa calls for end to siege

Gaza–Amr Moussa has arrived in Gaza this morning, for a first since the seizure of militant Islamist group Hamas of the impoverished strip, in a visit that was hailed by Hamas officials as a returning of ties between Gaza and the Arab world.

The Arab League Chief’s visit is a symbolic snub at Israel for imposing a military and economic blockade on the strip since 2008, an action which “has left more than 1.4 million Palestinian men, women and children trapped” and has caused mass unemployment, extreme poverty and a rise in food prices caused by extreme shortages, according to Amnesty International. In statements to the press, Moussa said that “that the siege of Gaza must be broken … I came here to commend the Palestinian people, to witness personally what has happened and what is happening.”

He added that the Arab League’s position “is clear” towards the breakage of the blockade. And in perhaps a sign that Moussa will use his visit to try and restart peace talks between political rivals Hamas and Fatah after talks between the two have collapsed several times despite Egyptian, Saudi Arabian and even Yemeni mediation efforts, he said that “reconciliation between the Palestinians is key.”

According to Reuters, Moussa is planning to meet Ismail Haniyeh, now head of the de-facto Hamas government in Gaza. However, the meeting will take place in Haniyeh’s home not in his office, perhaps in “a bid to avoid any impression of Arab League recognition of Hamas’s Gaza takeover” from the side of Moussa.

The visit comes in the wake of the violent interception of Turkish flotilla ship Mavi Marmara by the Israeli Forces which left nine activists dead and several wounded. The flotilla was heading straight to Gaza with a 10,000 tonnes worth of aid, and was attacked in international waters. Israel’s hasbara had attempted to make it look like a terrorist threat by claiming the activists were armed with knives, and that some of them were notoriously anti-semitic and/or terrorists.

The incident has shocked the international community, spurred worldwide demonstrations against the siege and led many countries to summon their respective Israeli ambassadors, including Egypt, in a sign of protest. Following the incident, Egypt opened the border crossing of Rafah between it and Gaza “indefinitely” according to wire reports. However, last week, in-kind-aid in the form of building material carried by Muslim Brotherhood and independent MPs was stopped at the border point. Instead the MPs were allowed, without the aid convoys, into the strip. It’s also not clear whether traffic at the borders is allowed at all times.

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