Palestinians stuck at closed border for last 3 weeks

14 Nov

300750_345x230Rafar border crossing closed by Egypt (MaanImages/file)

Ma’an News Agency report, 13 November 2014

A group of Palestinians stuck on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing into Gaza on Thursday  (yesterday) called upon Egypt to open the crossing after three weeks of closure in order to allow them to return to the Gaza Strip.

“We have been stuck in Egypt for 20 days, but no one has helped us or even talks about us,” Talal Salim, one of those stuck at the crossing, told Ma’an.

The Palestinians stuck at the border are victims of the Egyptian government’s policies regarding the crossing’s opening hours, which can be sealed shut for weeks at a time with little notice.

The most recent closure came after a bomb hit Egyptian soldiers in el-Arish, 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of the Gaza border. The crossing was closed in response, despite the lack of a clear relationship between the incident and Gaza.

The Deputy Minister of the Interior in Gaza, Kamel Abu Madi, called upon Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah crossing permanently, arguing that “there is no excuse for its closure.”

Abu Madi said that the crossing had been closed for a long time and those stuck needed to return to their homes and families. He also said that there were also many Palestinians in the Gaza Strip unable to travel that needed to do so.

Talal Salim told Ma’an that he had left the Gaza Strip for medical treatment and as soon as he finished his treatment he needed to return to Gaza.

“We are out of money, and the Egyptian side’s situation is not good,” he said, calling upon the Egyptian and Palestinian sides to solve their issue and open the crossing.

The Rafah crossing has been the principal connection between Gaza’s 1.8 million residents and the outside world since the imposition of an economic blockade by the State of Israel beginning in 2007.

The blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.

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