EGYPT – Egypt to reopen Gaza crossing 

CAIRO — Egypt plans to reopen a border crossing with the Gaza Strip as soon as possible, a spokeswoman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said Friday, worrying Israel and bringing an end to a blockade of the territory that had been deeply unpopular inside Egypt.

Access to Gaza from Egypt had been severely restricted at Israel’s request after the Islamic movement Hamas took control of the territory in 2007. Israel and the United States consider Hamas a terrorist organization, and Israel imposed a blockade on the territory because officials said they were concerned about weapons and explosives being transported across the border.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had pursued close ties with Israel during his 30-year rule, a course that was deeply unpopular with many in Egypt. But since Mr. Mubarak [was forced to] step down in mid-February, Egypt has been pursuing a new foreign policy path, intent on regaining its role as a regional power broker.

Egypt has moved in recent days to bolster its relationship with Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was banned in Egypt during Mr. Mubarak’s reign. The change reflected popular sentiment and helped Egyptian diplomats broker a deal this week between Fatah and Hamas that will unify the two main factions in the Palestinian territories.

GERMANY – Germany to reopen borders

BERLIN — When Germany opens its borders to workers from Eastern Europe on May 1, it may provide the trigger Europe’s largest economy needs to fill a worker shortage that is set to worsen as its population ages.

Starting next month, Germany will allow jobseekers from Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia to work freely within its borders, seven years after most of its European Union peers. The influx of as many as 400,000 migrant workers in the first two years may add about 0.3 percentage points to Germany’s gross domestic product, BNP Paribas economists and the European Commission estimate.

Manufacturers including Siemens and Robert Bosch are hiring to meet booming export orders, with the government predicting 2.6 percent economic growth this year after a record 3.6 percent in 2010. The number of vacancies at German companies reached a record in April, according to the Federal Labor Office’s monthly BA-X index, which tracks job demand.

GERMANY – 3 held in terror plot

KARLSRUHE — Three suspected al-Qaida members were working on making a shrapnel-laden bomb in Germany to attack a crowded place such as a bus — a plot that shows Europe faces an ongoing terror threat, officials said Saturday.

Law enforcement officials said the trio, arrested Friday after being under surveillance for months, hadn’t picked a specific target, but were experimenting with explosives and detonators before authorities swooped in.

The suspects include a Moroccan, a German with Moroccan citizenship, and a German with Iranian citizenship.

(The news briefs above are from wire reports and staff reports posted at: the Pittsburgh on April 30th and May 1st.)


1. For each of the 3 countries (2 this week), give the following information:
a) the countries that share its borders
b) the religious breakdown of the population
c) the type of government
d) the chief of state (and head of government if different) [If monarch or dictator, since what date has he/she ruled? – include name of heir apparent for monarch]e) the population

[Find the answers at the CIA World FactBook website. For each country, answers can be found under the “Geography” “People” and “Government” headings.  Go to for a list of continents.]

2. For Egypt:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Why had the Egyptian government closed the border between Egypt and Gaza several years ago?

3. For Germany (border story):
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Most European Union countries opened their borders to workers from fellow EU countries seven years ago. Why is Germany only doing so now?

4. For Germany (terrorist plot story):
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Do you think European countries should implement a different set of requirements for citizenship/residency for immigrants from countries with known terrorist ties/activities? Explain your answer.


GERMANY is a member of the European Union:

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic community of twenty-seven member states, located primarily in Europe. It was established in 1993…, adding new areas of policy to the existing European Community.  With almost 500 million citizens, the EU combined generates an estimated 30% share of the world’s nominal gross domestic product (US$16.8 trillion in 2007).

To join the EU, a country must meet the Copenhagen criteria, defined at the 1993 Copenhagen European Council. These require a stable democracy which respects human rights and the rule of law; a functioning market economy capable of competition within the EU; and the acceptance of the obligations of membership, including EU law. Evaluation of a country’s fulfillment of the criteria is the responsibility of the European Council.



  • Click here for a map of Israel (including the Gaza Strip and the West Bank).
  • Go to for a map of the Middle East.
  • Read the Jan. 2010 article “Israel to Build Security Barrier on Border with Egypt” at



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