Israel and Egypt v. Gaza: fried chicken under the Egyptian border

The ‘Scotsman’ used to be a respected and authoritative daily newspaper serving Scotland, but these days little checking/cross-checking of copy appears to be done by this rather down-at-heel and tabloid title, part of Johnston Press. Take the recent article in the Sunday title of Scotsman Publications Ltd., ‘Scotland on Sunday’, entitled ‘Palestinian chicken run defies Israeli blockade’, Sunday 19 May 2013, and attributed to Fares Akram in Gaza City. The gist of the story – or at least our interpretation of the story – is that Palestinians in Gaza have so much money and gasoline to waste, in spite of a so-called ‘Israeli blockade’ on the entity, that they can spend up to £18 on 12-piece fried chicken buckets (chicken pieces, fries, coleslaw, apple-pie) to be sent for from El Arish in Egypt, through smuggling tunnels under the Egyptian-Gaza border, and then by taxi to Gaza City, some 30 kilometres or so from the border.

The border in question is of course the Rafah Border Crossing at Rafah, the only crossing between Gaza and Egypt – not Israel. Control of this Rafah Border Crossing was transferred to the Palestinian Authority in 2005 when Israel withdrew from the entity of Gaza. On the Egyptian side, as recently as April 2013, troops have reinforced the border with Gaza, and the Egyptian Army has been destroying tunnels by flooding them. It is not this of course which has caused the chips to ‘arrive soggy’ but the fact that they have come from Egypt under the Egyptian-Gaza border and then by the long cab ride to Gaza City.

We are told too that when the Egyptian-Gaza border was breached by Hamas in 2008, thousands of Gazans flooded into El Arish and bought cigarettes, sweets and ‘things they did not need’. The principal message I got from the piece by Fares Akram therefore is that Gazans are not exactly starving and not exactly short of gasoline (and therefore not exactly short of power/energy), and that Israel still allows crossings via their border (the Erez Crossing) for medical patients, businessmen and employees of international organisations. If Hamas is at war with Israel – and its constitution states that it wants to see Israel’s destruction – why would Israel allow anyone else from Gaza across its border?

While this soggy chips and ‘chicken run’ is reckoned to be ‘part of resisting the Israeli enemy, giving a sense of empowerment and control’, Israelis are able to enjoy hot, crisp chips and fried chicken any time they like, minutes from home… and… critically… without the fear of being blown up by some religion crazed suicide bomber. Concerning the need to tunnel under the Egyptian-Gaza border, the problem Gazans have in this case is with Egypt, not Israel.

Otherwise, I am not exactly sure what message I was supposed to get from his piece.


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