Caught at the crossing

Palestinians, ghettoised by Israeli closures of Gaza’s sole entrance, feel abandoned.

Thousands of Gazans are stranded in Egypt

This month, the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza has been open for less than 36 hours spread over four days. Thousands of Palestinians are stranded on the Egyptian side, kept from their homes and families.

At the crossing on Wednesday, huge crowds stood or squatted elbow to elbow, shielding their eyes from the piercing midday sun as they awaited entry into Gaza.

They were penned in between a steel gate leading to the terminal and dozens of riot-geared Egyptian police, with Gaza visible less than a kilometre away.

Many of them had been waiting for more than two weeks to cross back into Gaza, sometimes making a six-hour trip from temporary accommodation to the crossing several times a day upon receiving word of its imminent opening.

Abu Yousuf Barghut is 57 and left Gaza to receive medical treatment for shrapnel wounds. Now, he cannot return.

“We have been waiting for 15 days now”

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“We have been waiting for 15 days now,” he said.  “Only God knows when it will open – today, tomorrow, the day after?”

His wife, Aisha, said: “We only went to seek treatment for him and to come right back. And now we are stuck and waiting for us in Gaza are my four children. This is the most basic of rights – to be able to return to our homes, and we are denied even that.”

Inside the terminal, hundreds of women and children were strewn across the floor, many having collapsed from exhaustion.

One young man, Isam Shaksu, had been in Jordan for a corneal implant, and one of his eyes was heavily bandaged.

“The only way anyone will actually pay attention to our plight is if one of us dies here, and even then, I’m not sure the world will care,” he said.

Belongings are loaded on to unstable trollies

In July, seven Palestinians died at Rafah while waiting to be let into Gaza. 

Another man, an engineer with the UN, had just returned from a training course in Germany, where he was stuck for four months after Egypt began denying entry to young Palestinian men without visas.

By the end of the day, some could stand the waiting no longer and began to reload their luggage on to the few rickety trolleys available for use.

“Where do you think you’re going?” one officer yelled at an elderly man pushing his towering trolley away from the crossing.

“To Jerusalem! Where do you think?” the man snapped back.

Source : Al Jazeera


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