Not much has gone right with the turnover of the Rafah Crossing to the Palestinian Authority under the deal brokered by Secretary Rice last month. Yesterday all hell broke loose at the crossing: “EU observers flee as angry PA police storm Rafah crossing.” The AP reports:
Palestinian policemen angry over the killing of a fellow police officer stormed the Gaza-Egypt crossing Friday, firing in the air and forcing European monitors to close the border and flee, Palestinian and European officials said.
The European observers – responsible for monitoring the crossing and ensuring the terms of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement are upheld – fled to an IDF base near the Gaza-Israel border, fearing the situation was spinning out of control, the officials said.
The takeover is the latest in a rash of armed kidnappings and takeovers of government buildings that underscore the lawlessness in Gaza and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ inability to bring order to the coastal area following this summer’s pullout.
A British woman and her parents were kidnapped Wednesday by gunmen near the Rafah crossing. The family’s fate remains unknown. Palestinian security are searching for the family, while British diplomats keep close tabs on the situation.
When the going gets tough, the EU observers hide out with the IDF — a point only obliquely acknowledged in the BBC version of the story. The BBC adds: “The monitors are expected to return as soon as it is safe to do so.”
UPDATE: Reuters reports that the border crossing is to be reopened this afternoon.