Sunday, August 19, 2007

Report warns against the effects of an Israel military plan to close the Negev border with Egypt

The Egyptian opposition paper Al-Masryoun summarizes a report from Ben Gurion University about an Israeli plan to completely close off the border between Egypt and Israel's Negev Desert southern region, the gist of the report being to warn of the devastating effects such a closure would have on the Arab Bedouins that live in the Negev. The reporter Mohammed Atiya writes:
A report from Ben Gurion University discloses that the Israeli military establishment is at work on a plan aiming at the complete closure of the border with Egypt for a period of five years, something that would lead to great damage to the Arab residents of the region in their source of income, because Bank of Israel statistics indicate the Arabs of the Negev make 40 million shekels annually from dealing in contraband goods from Egypt via the Sinai. According to the report, after the complete closure of the border, they will have no alternative but to invade central Israel and Tel Aviv in particular, or else Cairo where this will lead to spread of robbery and plunder at the hands of these Bedouin tribes against the residents of the two capitals. The report also warned against an imminent explosion in the region because of what the Arab Bedouins have faced in recent years by way of a fierce campaign waged against them by Israel, centering on their desire to seize their lands for Jewish settlements and for private farms for Jews only, and including non-connection of any villages to the water and electricity networks, and non-provision of the most basic health services, and [another factor is] the rise in the rate of unemployment among youths of the region.
The Ben Gurion University report reviewed similar efforts in the past by Israel to undermine the social and economic basis of the Negev Bedouins, including border-closings and a land-grab that followed the Camp David accord in 1982.

The Masryoun journalist doesn't provide any background information relating either to this report or to the border-closure plan. There have been recent news reports on border issues relating to the Gaza crisis, including a reported Egyptian plan to re-militarize the Sinai, but it is an issue that seems to have disappeared from the news recently. And this journalist doesn't attempt to pick up the pieces.


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