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Cablegate: Gaza Border Update January 30

VZCZCXRO5172
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHEG #0162 0301657
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 301657Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8009
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL

UNCLAS CAIRO 000162

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KPAL CASC PTER EG IS
SUBJECT: GAZA BORDER UPDATE JANUARY 30

REF: A) CAIRO 155, B) CAIRO 148

1. An Egyptian businessman in El Arish told us January 30 that he
was not optimistic that the GOE will successfully round up all the
Palestinians in North Sinai. Some of them, he surmised, will go to
ground with friends and relatives. An academic contact, by
contrast, said that Egyptians in North Sinai were happy to open
their homes to Palestinians. He said he went to the border after
the breach to see what was going on, and gave a ride back to El
Arish to a Palestinian mother and her grown son who came over to
shop. He ended up putting them up for the night; they shopped, then
went back to Gaza. "I was glad to help." Like many others in El
Arish, he has family ties spanning the border. His wife's family
home is in Rafah a hundred yards from the border, and her extended
family is evenly divided by the border. His brother is married to a
Palestinian. Like almost everyone in El Arish, he said he hopes for
regular, controlled border openings at Rafah as soon as possible.

2. A senior MoD contact told us January 30 the situation at the
Rafah border was "quiet." He said the MoD had sent a team of
engineers to assess damage to the border on the Egyptian side,
including lights that had been knocked out by rocks thrown by
Palestinians. He said the team would assess not only damage, but
also how many bricks and how much cement will be needed to build a
new wall on the Egyptian side of the border "between border stone
two and border stone five." (Note: Unlike the Gazan side of the
border which had been protected by a steel wall until Hamas
destroyed much of it on January 22, the Egyptian side is demarcated
by little more than barbed wire. End note.) The MoD contact added
that the GoE was deliberately preventing the delivery of food and
other basic commodities to El Arish and Rafah. "We know the people
of El Arish and Rafah are suffering," he said, "but it is the only
way to prevent the Palestinians from staying."

JONES

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