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Thursday, June 2, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

EU not invited back to monitor Gaza border

LONDON — The European Union has not been asked to return to monitor the Egyptian border with the Gaza Strip.


Officials said the EU was not invited by Egypt to resume monitoring at the Rafah border terminal, the only crossing between the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula. On May 28, Egypt launched permanent operations at Rafah for the first time since Hamas ousted the Palestinian Authority in 2007.

"It is well know that the freedom of movement of Palestinians in and out of Gaza is one of the top priorities of the EU," European Border Assistance Mission spokesman Benoit Cusin said.

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The EU deployed up to 60 monitors at Rafah in 2005 in an effort to prevent the flow of weapons and insurgents from Egypt to the Gaza Strip, Middle East Newsline reported. The mission was suspended when Hamas captured Gaza and began hampering EU personnel.

Cusin told the German news agency DPA that Egypt has not invited the EU to return to Rafah. He expressed concern that this could result in a drop in security at the terminal.

On May 23, EU foreign ministers said Brussels was ready to renew the border mission. Officials said the European Border Assistance Mission was monitoring Rafah from neighboring Israel.

Hamas already said that EU monitors would not return to Rafah. Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh urged Gazans to respect Egyptian law to ensure that the border crossing remains open.

"Don't do anything that could compromise the reopening of the terminal," Haniyeh said. "We assure our Egyptian brothers: 'Your security is ours and your stability is ours.' "

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