Egypt Making Efforts to Calm Tension in Gaza

Finally, the massive massacre caused by the Israel-Hamas rocket fights has come to a halt and normal life has started gaining momentum for the civilians. After the ceasefire that was declared by the Egyptian government on 21st November, there has been a check on the cross-border fight between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian party that had forcefully seized Gaza in 2007.

Reportedly, the recent brutal fight has claimed lives of at least 166 Palestinian civilians and also 6 Israeli nationals. The residents of the Gaza city are relieved now and are hoping that the bloody nightmare that lasted eight days does not resurface, as negotiations are still underway.

Among all this escalating tension, Egypt took the initiative to calm down the tension existing in the Gaza strip. The truce conference was held in Cairo among the Egyptian officials, Israeli diplomat and the Hamas leader. Although there have been certain relaxations in the restrictions inflicted by Israel on border trade after the truce meeting, there are many Hamas demands that are yet to be negotiated upon. Further, trade leniency on the Gaza border, along with the reduction of the current curbs on trade are the main points of contention between Israel and Hamas. Meanwhile, the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire has calmed the tension and the brutal blood-fight in Gaza, with the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Mohamed Kamel Amr, announcing the much required ceasefire. The condition for the truce was to open all the frontiers of Gaza for trading activity.

After Hamas seized the Gaza strip by force in 2007, Israel had put stringent restrictions on all the activities on the Gaza border that led to the four-year long tension between Hamas and Israel. The ceasefire has led to some ease; however, further talks on the cross-border trade can be held without any bloodshed, only if there is any positive intervention from the side of the new Egyptian President, Mohammed Morsi.

Civilians in Gaza have seen a new day after a long wait during the conflict. Fishermen are now allowed to fish up till six miles, as compared to the earlier three miles before the conflict. The head of the Gazan fishermen association said that though this is still a restricted area, they are happy that they will have a better catch, as this is double the freedom they had earlier.

The prime concern of the Israel government is the goods smuggling trade that is happening through the tunnels in Gaza. Locals and trade officials believe that smuggling is the only option left for the traders, especially after the restrictions Israel had imposed on the Gaza border. The two major causes of conflict – i) Hamas’ demand for easing cross-border trade, and ii) the Israel concern over goods smuggling, are interlinked and will now be discussed, with the Egyptian intelligence acting as mediators.