The ongoing political crisis in Egypt has had a major influence on the people of the besieged Gaza Strip. The Rafah border crossing has been the Palestinians’ only route into and out of the territory since Israel imposed its siege in 2006. Restrictions put in place by the current Egyptian government mean that the crossing is only open for 4 hours a day, instead of the 7 hours of pre-coup days. As a result, thousands of Palestinians are stranded on both sides of the border as they struggle to get home or leave Gaza for study or employment purposes; many give up in frustration.
Gaza’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ghazi Hamad, has told a press conference that his officials have been speaking with the intelligence agencies in Cairo, urging them to reopen the Rafah crossing fully. He said that Egypt’s internal affairs should not have such an effect on the people of Gaza.
“We do not interfere in Egyptian affairs, either politically or on the security level,” he insisted. “However, unfortunately the less than credible media continues to hold Palestinians in Gaza responsible for Egypt’s internal situation.” Hence, he added, the unfair imposition of strict border controls by the coup regime.
Since the overthrow of Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi by the coup, the number of Palestinians allowed to enter or leave Gaza has dropped from an average of 1,200 per day to just 160.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad