Witness the power of the market:

RAFAH, Egypt — Thousands of Palestinians streamed over the Rafah border crossing from the Gaza Strip into Egypt on Wednesday, after a border fence was toppled, and went on a spree of buying fuel and other supplies that have been cut off from their territory by Israel.

They used donkeys, carts and motorcycles to cross the border, and streamed back over the fallen fence laden with goods they had been unable to buy in Gaza. The scene at the border was one of a great bazaar. The streets were packed, and people were bringing into Gaza everything from soap and cigarettes to goats, chickens, medicine, mattresses and car paint.

Israel ordered the closing of its border crossings into Gaza last week, halting all shipments except for emergency supplies, after a sustained and intense barrage of rocket fire into Israel by militant groups in the Gaza Strip, which is run by Hamas. Israel allowed in some fuel, medical supplies and food on Tuesday, as temporary relief, but has said that its closure policy remains in place. [Palestinians Topple Gaza Wall and Cross to Egypt. NYT. January 23 2008]

As supplies dwindled in Gaza, prices shot up. It went so high that the prices difference between Gaza and Egypt makes cost of transportation — which includes the cost of bringing down a wall to cross an international border — irrelevant.

Egypt so far has done nothing to stop Palestinians from crossing the border.

President Mubarak said he had allowed the Palestinians to come in.

He said he had told Egyptian troops to “let them come to eat and buy food and go back, as long as they are not carrying weapons”. [Gazans flood through Egypt border. BBC News. January 23 2008]

If the Egyptian government does nothing, Israel’s policy of border closure, or at least the side effect of the policy, will be as irrelevant as the cost of transportation.

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