Gaza fears isolation as Hamas labelled terrorists (China Daily)

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  • March 3, 2015
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Gaza residents said on Sunday they fear growing isolation and more hardship after an Egyptian court declared the territory’s ruling militant Hamas group a terrorist organization on Saturday. Some blamed Hamas while others said Egypt is being unreasonable.
Hamas called for protests against the Egyptian government and issued angry statements but did not offer a way out of the crisis. Salah Bardaweel, a Hamas spokesman, said Egypt has become a “direct agent” of Israeli interests.
Hamas urged Saudi Arabia to press Egypt to open the Gaza-Egypt border, and Egypt’s president met on Sunday with the new Saudi king.
Hamas seized Gaza by force in 2007, and the territory’s borders have been largely sealed by Israel and Egypt since then. Egypt intensified the blockade after its military toppled a Hamas-friendly government in Cairo in 2013.
In recent months, Egyptian soldiers have destroyed virtually all the smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border. In October, they began razing parts of the Egyptian town of Rafah on the border with Gaza. Residents near the border said homes are still being dynamited or bulldozed at a steady pace, with the latest explosion heard on Sunday afternoon.
The Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, Gaza’s main gateway to the world, has been mostly closed since October. This year, it was only open for two days, leaving thousands unable to get out of the territory, including Muslim pilgrims and students. The tunnel closures have put an end to the smuggling of cheap fuel and cement from Egypt, further hurting a crippled Gaza economy and driving up unemployment. Cigarette prices have tripled.
Some in Gaza blamed Hamas, saying it’s time the militant group moderate or hand over control to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, from whom it seized Gaza.
(China Daily 03/03/2015 page11)