World Bulletin / News Desk
The heavily surveilled and fenced-in kilometer-long corridor travellers pass through in transit between Gaza and Israel has been newly decorated in recent weeks – rows of Egyptian flags now line the approach to the Palestinian side.
Like the posters of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat plastered on the walls at the Erez checkpoint, the flags celebrate an Egyptian-sponsored Palestinian reconciliation process, intended to end a decade-long split between Abbas' Fatah faction and Hamas, who have been ruling Gaza since 2007.
The offices where Hamas once searched luggage and its intelligence officers interviewed foreign visitors now lie abandoned, their contents looted since the group handed Gaza's borders over to the PA at the beginning of November, marking the first concrete change since the reconciliation process started. Attention has since shifted southward – to the border with Egypt.
While the changes at Erez meant little for ordinary Gazans, who are unable to enter Israel without rarely-obtained permits, the supposed opening of the Rafah crossing on Wednesday would mean the population of 2 million being able to travel outside the coastal strip after a decade of almost total blockade on all sides.
"[If Rafah opened], it would bring trade to the country and improve the economic situation," Yusuf Habboush, 23, a currency exchanger in central Gaza, told Anadolu Agency.
But like others in Gaza, he has stopped buying into initial optimism prompted by the fanfare and promises surrounding the reconciliations talks because of the lack of changes almost two months after the process started.
"We would expect from the reconciliation for borders to open, the creation of jobs for the youth and more business in the country but nothing's happened until now, it's all empty."
Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip is the enclave's only terminal not controlled by Israel.
The reconciliation process started in September when Hamas agreed to hand over the reign of government to the PA but frustration about the lack of change has been building, especially as punitive measures introduced by Abbas to pressure Hamas into relinquishing power have remained in place, including a cut that reduces electricity to no more than six hours a day and the slashing of salaries for his own PA employees.
Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said 31 people had been aboard the amphibious vessel, known as a duck boat for its wheels that allow it to ride on land in addition to floating low on the water.
After weeks of apparently fruitless negotiations, the United States early this month imposed 25 percent tariffs on approximately $34 billion of Chinese mechanical and technological products -- sparking an immediate response from Beijing, which said it would hit back dollar for dollar.
Today marks the 44th anniversary of Turkey’s military operation on the Mediterranean island
Island divided since 1974, when Turkish army interceded under Ankara’s guarantor status to protect Turkish community
18 children among dead, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry
UN chief's Iraq envoy calls on the incoming government to prioritize 'reforms and the fight against corruption'
Greenhouse gases from waste equal to adding 2.1 million cars to roads
Organization of American States condemns Daniel Ortega in resolution
South Korean foreign minister cannot 'rule out' trilateral summit in two months
Airstrikes conducted in Turkey’s southeast and northern Iraq
4 bombs exploded near roadside in Kirkuk, at least 10 people were injured
19 reported dead, 103 rescued, 25 missing, rescue operation ongoing in Mediterranean
Under terms of Iraq’s constitution, current assembly’s mandate expired on June 30
In remarks ahead of this weekend's meeting of Group of 20 finance ministers in Argentina, Lagarde said there were signs global growth could begin to decline and called on policymakers to prepare.
Israeli army frequently conducts wide-ranging arrest campaigns in the occupied West Bank
Probe by Israeli rights group B'Tselem concludes that intentional fatal shot was fired at the Palestinian paramedic.