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Israel, Gaza tensions: Why Egypt helps maintain the blockade

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“Hamas is part of another coalition in the region – the Iran, Syria, Hezbollah coalition,” he says. “Hamas is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. And Hamas is trying to minimize the Egyptian role in the Palestinian cause.”

Under these circumstances, he says, Egypt has little reason to end the blockade.

When and why the blockade started

Israel began restricting the flow of goods into Gaza when Hamas captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006. After Hamas wrested control of the Gaza Strip from Fatah in 2007, Israel tightened the blockade, allowing only a trickle of basic goods into the coastal enclave through the five entry points it controls.

Egypt followed suit, keeping the Rafah crossing mostly closed. It opens the border only to allow special shipments of medical supplies into Gaza and to allow some Palestinians to leave, most for medical treatment.

Egypt last year allowed more than 7,000 tons of medical equipment into Gaza and about 75,000 Palestinians to leave the territory, says Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki, who disputes labeling the border as “closed.”

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