Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Palestinians in Gaza largely cut off from outside world

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

"RAFAH, 6 Sep 2006 (IRIN) - Israel’s continued closure of the Gaza Strip’s only international border crossing is isolating Gaza’s 1.4 million residents.

As Gaza’s only international border crossing, Rafah is the only route for ordinary Palestinians to cross from Gaza to Egypt to go back to their jobs and universities across the world - and to get back in to see their families.

All other crossings into Israel have been closed since the start of a second intifada in 2000. Meaning ‘uprising’ in Arabic, an intifada is a campaign directed at ending Israeli military occupation.

Many stuck in Gaza face losing their jobs if they cannot travel when they planned to. Palestinians unable to cross into Egypt risk losing money spent on airline tickets from Cairo to countries in the Gulf and elsewhere.

When the border last opened on August 25 and 26, priority was given to sick and vulnerable people, many of whom were travelling to Egypt for medical treatment.

Only a few thousand Palestinians got through, though – alerted by television news and mobile phone messages from friends - masses rushed towards it.

"It was insanely crowded – about 10,000 people. Many people jumped up onto the roofs of buses arriving at the border, and a lot fell off again."

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