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Egypt reopens the Rafah terminal. The EU mission “EUBAM” relaunched?

(photo credit: Eubam Rafah)

(B2) First (positive) consequence of the military incident against the Gaza flotilla: Egypt has decided to reopen the Rafah crossing point towards the Gaza Strip (the only crossing point between Gaza not controlled by Israel). Not for three days as initially planned but “for an indefinite period” according to the latest Egyptian declarations. The question that now arises for the EU is whether its observers who have been “on standby” since June 2005 in Ashkelon will once again play their role there.

The EU set up this observer mission in November 2005 as part of an agreement to unilaterally disengage Israel from certain points. But it only operated for a few months, ceasing a large part of its activities in June 2006, with the arrival of Hamas in Gaza, and completely a year later, in June 2007. We had believed in a possible reopening in January 2009 (read: EUBAM Rafah: redeployment in accelerated phase). But it didn't happen (Our mission Eubam rafah returns to the back burner).

A dormant mission that can be redeployed quickly

While its removal was considered for a time, this option was never retained. And EUBAM Rafah was extended, for the fourth time, by the 27 during their meeting on May 12 until May 24, 2011. This mission should include 24 people (13 internationals and 11 locals) allowing, if necessary, a rapid redeployment (3 weeks normally)

Activities have been reduced, particularly the operations pillar. But expertise in Border Police and customs expertise has been retained. While awaiting a possible redeployment, the mission maintains regular contacts with the parties to the 2005 agreements (at the operational level), planning redeployment scenarios – which must be regularly updated, depending on developments in the situation and the different options that could present themselves on the ground, maintaining the vehicles and equipment necessary for rapid redeployment, developing contacts with the various international organizations working on the issue of borders and crossing points, etc.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).