NTB’s “free” and “open” border crossing

You don’t have to read Norwegian newspapers for a long time to realize that NTB functions a bit like the political commisariate for the press here. Their releases read like political talking points for the editors who reprint things. NTB in turn tends to cut, paste, translate, redact, and edit from AFP and occasionally Reuters to match the Accepted Norwegian Narrative (ANN), and so the masses are indoctrinated educated informed.

So when Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah border today, NTB informed the editors that this was a cause for great celebration, and so the lede reads: “This is the first time that Palestinians can freely cross the border to Egypt.” And if that’s all you read, you’ll think Rafah is a lot like border crossings between Luxembourg and Belgium, or at least the United States and Canada.

But if you read the article further, and add in Aftenposten and NRK‘s explanations (where Sidsel Wold objectively and helpfully points out that thanks to the Israelis, Gaza is still “under siege”), there are certain restriction:

  • Only people are allowed across the border. Goods must either be shipped through Israeli border crossings or tunnels.
  • Men between 15 and 40 must obtain visas to enter Egypt.
  • Visas are only available at the Egyptian consular offices in Ramallah. But Egypt will open offices in Gaza really soon now, and this promise will remain in force as long as anyone cares.
  • The border is only “open” from 9 am to 5 pm, except on Fridays and holidays
  • Only 300 people may cross the border every day, except on the first day, when 900 were allowed to cross

Two interesting points here:

  • How different are these restrictions from restrictions at Erez into Israel?
  • Would NTB have reported the crossings as “free” and “open” if Israel had opened their crossings with similar restrictions?