In another sign of the lawlessness in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian gunmen have blocked the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in protest at the arrest of a suspected militant. The men, from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, are demanding the release of Alaa al-Hams, a fellow member arrested by the Palestinian Authority for allegedly kidnapping three British citizens last week.
Rafah has a troubled history, both during Israeli rule and after Israel withdrew last year. In December Palestinian police sealed it off in protest at what they saw as the government’s lack of support for their work. In the latest incident, the militants prevented Palestinian Authority officials from travelling, and also occupied buildings such as the local headquarters of the election commission. The action has raised another question mark over whether the parliamentary poll scheduled for January 25 can take place on time. The vote has been hit by uncertainty over whether Israel will allow Palestinians living in east Jerusalem to take part.