Cut off from the outside world, Palestinians have been urging Egypt to open its border with Gaza for days. On Tuesday night, the dam broke when militants blew a hole in the concrete wall at Rafah.
The UN estimates that at least 350,000 Palestinians have come in search of the food and medicine that are scarce in Gaza after an Israeli blockade – aimed at stopping rocket attacks from the Strip. Israel is concerned about the situation but says it is Egypt’s responsibility to man the crossing.
According to a Hamas spokesman, Wednesday’s events were inevitable: “This is a natural development of the anger and frustration which Palestinians have suffered from. The suffocating blockade led to this explosion, which we have constantly warned about.”
Israel shut the Gaza Strip last week, cutting fuel shipments and stopping aid, including food and humanitarian supplies. “Thank God for this victory,” said one Rafah resident. “People are going over to get goods, food, cement, flour, everything and patients can go and get medical treatment.”
On Tuesday, Egyptian police used water cannon on people at Rafah, but on Wednesday they stook by and did nothing. The order came from the top. The Egyptian president told soldiers to let the Palestinians in.