Egypte, Palestine, Gaza
At the terminal: Stories from the Rafah Border Crossing
It has been one month since the Rafah Border Crossing was opened, marking the longest window in which Gazans have been permitted to leave and reenter the besieged Gaza Strip since 2013.
What was initially purported to be a four-day opening was extended on May 17, when President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced that travel across the Egypt-Gaza border would be permitted throughout the month of Ramadan.
From Gaza to the outside world
Mada Masr spoke to several travelers waiting at the on the Palestinian side of the crossing.
Zuheir al-Qashash, 44, was there with his family, which includes four children. “I sold my apartment, man,” he says. “I registered my entire family for crossing, and we are going to live with my mother in Egypt. To live in Gaza is to die slowly. I will not have my children [continue to] suffer through what we have been experiencing for the past 10 years.”
Qashash tells Mada Masr that he paid nearly US$7,000 for registration and “coordination in order to cross through Rafah.”
“It’s a big gamble,” he says. “But the biggest gamble of all is to patiently wait in Gaza, in hopes that the conditions will improve.”
To travel across the Rafah crossing, Palestinians must board special busses and pay large sums of money to register through travel agencies in Gaza. These agencies then submit applications to officers on the Egyptian side, according to several people who attempted the trip. Once officials in Palestine receive a select list of names approved by the Egyptians, they notify those selected to prepare to cross. The list, however, is always handwritten and never bears the official mark of Egypt’s Interior Ministry or any other government agency.
Palestinians have left the Gaza Strip in increasing numbers since the 2014 war with Israel. It is not unusual for entire families to leave at the same time, according to copies of the lists of travelers obtained by Mada Masr. Some of these families have since relocated to Europe.
The sight of entire families waiting at the Palestinian terminal for their passage to be approved has become increasingly common, following Sisi’s Ramadan announcement.