Thursday, September 18, 2008

Because The Pharaoh Has No Balls: Forgotten at the Gaza-Egypt border

Eva Bartlett writing from al-Arish, Egypt, Live from Palestine, 17 September 2008
(Eva Bartlett is a Canadian human rights advocate and freelancer who spent eight months in 2007 living in West Bank communities and four months in Cairo and at the Rafah crossing)

""His father died this morning," a hotel guest explained, gesturing to Raed, slumped and silent in his chair, face long.

It was Wednesday, 20 August in Sinai's al-Arish, a town about 50 kilometers west of the Gaza-Egypt border....

Silenced and out of the international spotlight, the Palestinians waiting in al-Arish said that their plight at the closed crossing is either ignored or politicized. Many were running out of money, while others had completely run out, having waited for the opening of Rafah for weeks without earning an income. Approximately 200 of the Palestinians who waited to re-enter Gaza were in dire financial circumstances, many borrowing money, others begging, some sleeping in the streets....

Meanwhile, Sameh, the university student, spoke of separation, not only between Palestinians in and outside of Gaza, but of Gaza from the West Bank. Referring to the 19 June ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian armed resistance in Gaza, Sameh said: "By enforcing the truce only in Gaza, Israel is trying to enforce the idea of separating Gaza from the West Bank, as two separate states. But West Bank Palestinians are just like us, and we can't ignore the oppression they in the West Bank face under occupation."

On 30 August, just before Ramadan began, Egypt finally opened the Rafah crossing for two days, allowing in most of the Palestinians waiting in al-Arish at the time and letting hundreds of Palestinians and Egyptians inside Gaza exit to Egypt. However, this was a one-time measure and not a change in policy. With the Rafah crossing tightly re-sealed, the siege still firmly in place. The thousands of patients still needing medical care outside of Gaza, hundreds of students still cut off from their schools abroad, and the countless separated families continue to call for the border to open and remain open."

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