Four different international delegations crossed the Rafa border crossing from Egypt into Gaza on Tuesday.
According to state-owned news agency MENA, the delegations came from Indonesia, Tunisia, Turkey, and Australia and included over 50 people ranging from engineers to religious NGO workers.
“It has become easier to come to Gaza, many came after the [Egyptian] presidential election,” said Hani Al-Basoos, a political science professor in Gaza. He added that with easier access, high ranking diplomats could also easily cross the Rafa border.
The growing accessibility into Gaza has allowed for a number of significant visits over the past few months. In December, allies from around the world traveled through the Rafa border crossing to help Hamas celebrate their 25th anniversary. Days prior, exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshall visited Palestine. The Rafa border was also the entry point for high-level diplomats, such as the Egyptian prime minister, who sought to highlight the plight of Gazans during the recent conflict with Israel.
Despite this, Gazan enthusiasm is measured. “Morsy makes things much easier than before,” said Al-Basoos, but added that after his election, “In Gaza people were expecting that the crossing would be open 24/7. But up until now we have not witnessed major changed.”
Al-Basoos said that in many ways the international visits actually accomplish more as symbolic support than actually providing logistical or material support. “All these delegations come from around the world to Gaza to support the Palestinian community. It is not only diplomatic or humanitarian.”
However, Al-Basoos explained, the Rafa border crossing has been used by Hamas leaders to enter Cairo where they have been engaging in reconciliation talks with their Fatah counterparts. Something he said Gazans have long wanted.
These talks came at a time when Hamas threatened to stop a Fatah-led festival scheduled to take place this week. Al-Basoos said that the source of the problem is an addition fissure that is wrecking havoc in the Fatah party, which the Gazan authorities fear may turn the festival violent.