After several hours of closure amid growing anarchy in Gaza, the Strip’s border with Egypt has now reopened. Trouble flared when Palestinian police, backed by gunmen, imposed an armed blockade on the Rafah crossing. European Union observers were forced to flee the area. They have now returned. The police were protesting over the killing of a colleague – in a climate of spiralling internal violence since Israel withdrew from Gaza in September after 38 years of occupation.
The crossing at Rafah was opened last month and was hailed as a step to make Gaza a testing ground for Palestinian statehood. But today’s standoff just adds to the difficulties of officials already searching for British human rights activist Kate Burton and her parents who were abducted nearby on Wednesday. Concern is mounting as Palestinian police chief Alaa Hosni admitted he did not know who the kidnappers were. It is not unusual for foreigners to be taken hostage in the area but usually they are freed after a matter of hours.