Egypt on Gaza: Open Sympathy, Closed Border

Despite support for Palestinians, Egyptians don't want refugees
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2009 7:00 AM CST
A Palestinian is seen in the area where an Israeli airstrike destroyed tunnels near the border between Gaza and Egypt, in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008.   (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
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(Newser) – As Israel's military operation in Gaza continues, thousands of Palestinians have fled their homes and assembled at the Strip's southern border with Egypt. But except for a few severely wounded individuals, Egypt is not letting anyone through. It's not the first time, writes the Los Angeles Times, that national interest has trumped pan-Arab solidarity.

Last January, after Gazans blew a hole in the wall separating the Strip from Egypt, 250,000 flooded into Sinai, spending millions on supplies and quickly wearing out their welcome. While Egyptians largely support the Palestinian cause, they remember how the military needed to drive the refugees back into Gaza and aren't keen on repeating the past. "We shouldn't accept refugees," said one man near the border. "The Palestinians have to defend themselves or die."