Construction of the wall on the border with Gaza. (Photo: Middle East Eye)
According to a report published in Middle East Monitor, Egypt is building a wall on its border with Gaza purportedly for “security reasons and to curb smuggling”. The under-construction wall is coming up along an older barrier built in 2008. As per the report, once completed, the wall will be six meters high and five meters deep below the ground.
Reportedly approved by Hamas officials, the wall is to be built in phases. In the first phase, a two-km stretch is currently under construction near the Rafah border crossing with Gaza. The total length of the border between Egypt and Gaza is around 14 km and has been an essential supply route of commodities for around two million people in the Gaza strip, particularly in the context of its borders being blockaded by Israel.
Israel has already built a concrete wall on its 37-mile-long border with Gaza which is several meters deep underground. The wall was built following Hamas’ victory in the last Palestinian legislative elections which were held in 2006.
Israel has put Gaza under a severe economic and political blockade since 2008 and has restricted the cross-border movement of people. Israel also has strict control over Gaza’s coast, turning it into a large open-air prison. The siege has denied access to arable land and the majority of fishing areas for the Gazans, affecting their livelihoods and making them heavily dependent on trade with Egypt.
After the coup against Mohammad Morsi’s government in 2013, the Abdel Fattah al-Sisi government in Egypt, which is close to the Trump administration in the US, has implemented a policy akin to the Israeli siege of Gaza, and has put severe restrictions on the movement of people through its Rafah border crossing. It also created a 1,500 meter-wide buffer zone between Egypt and Gaza in 2014. The wall, the latest addition to the same policy, is likely to increase the misery of the people living in the narrow Gaza strip.