In 2005, following the Israeli disengagement from Gaza, the Governments of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the State of Israel concluded an Agreement on Movement and Access (AMA) aimed at facilitating the free movement of people and goods within and out of the occupied Palestinian territory by, inter-alia, opening an international crossing point on the Gaza-Egypt land border. This was an important step in the negotiations for a lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on a negotiated two-state solution.
Upon the parties’ request, the EU stepped in as an honest broker to support capacity building at the Rafah Crossing Point, between Gaza and Egypt. On 24 November 2005, the Border Assistance Mission for the Rafah Crossing Point (EUBAM Rafah) was deployed to provide a third-party presence, oversee border operations at the Rafah Crossing Point and contribute to building trust between the two parties. EUBAM Rafah was one of the first civilian Missions deployed under the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), and is the oldest CSDP Mission still in operation.
In the first years of its operation, EUBAM Rafah was a visible and positively perceived presence at the Rafah Crossing Point, however a number of political events, in particular the takeover of the Gaza Strip by Hamas in 2007, led to the Mission to suspend permanent operations in Gaza.
Since 2007, EUBAM Rafah has continued its cooperation with the Palestinian General Administration for Borders and Crossings, delivering and coordinating strategic advice, training and equipment. The Mission maintains a readiness to redeploy to the Rafah Crossing Point once the political and security situation allows.
Mission & goals
EUBAM Rafah is currently focused on enhancing the capacities of personnel from the General Administration for Borders and Crossings on border related issues, e.g. border management, cross border crime, risk analysis and information sharing in order to achieve a modern and sustainable border management system that is line with international standards.
EUBAM Rafah aims to support the General Administration for Borders and Crossings so that they achieve a level of reliable local ownership over border management. The Mission also aims to strengthen cooperation among all the Palestinian Agencies involved in border control, such as Border Police, Customs, Judicial and Intelligence services.
To implement the mandate, EUBAM Rafah provides expertise in border management, customs and border police operations and undertakes a number of actions, including but not limited to training sessions, study visits, provision of technical equipment, the construction of training venues and the recent establishment of a Command and Control Centre for border operations.
The Mission has 16 staff members - 8 international and 8 local staff, two of whom are based in Gaza. The Mission plays an important role in cooperating with and coordinating support for Palestinian border agencies with other EU and international institutions. These include the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange Instrument of the European Commission (TAIEX), the Office of the EU Representative for West Bank and Gaza Strip, EU Member States, and the EU Police and Rule of Law Mission for the occupied Palestinian territory (EUPOL COPPS). External experts are also employed in specific fields or in the implementation of technical projects, funded by the Mission.