Palestinians in Gaza in Desperate Surge in Rare Rafah Border Opening

Families inside the Abu Yousef an-Najjar Sports Centre await entrance through the Rafah border. (Photo: Ezz Zanoun, Al-Jazeera)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

Hundreds of desperate Gazans eager to cross into Egypt from besieged Gaza Strip, as border opens for first time in 87 days.

The Rafah border has been opened for the first time since December 2016. More than 25,000 Palestinians in dire need have requested to travel through this crossing.

Thousands, mainly students, those with serious medical needs, and those residing outside of Gaza have awaited this opening of the Rafah crossing, some for almost two years, into Egypt, during a rare two-day opening of the border to Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.

However, despite the desperate need to cross the border, only 765 Palestinians were approved to pass into Egypt on Saturday, according to Palestinian authorities. This, despite some 30, 000 who registered to travel into Egypt.

Some 3,500 who need to travel for medical purposes, according to a Ma’an News Agency report.

Those who allowed passage will be escorted via security to Cairo International Airport from which they will take flights to various destinations. Only those residing in Egypt will not be escorted.

Ali Hamed, 23, waited for hours at the crossing before being allowed to pass. “I have already been accepted to study at a university in Turkey,” he told Al Jazeera. “I even have a visa, but I have been waiting for a year and a half, spending all my money trying to get out [of Gaza].”

Gaza has endured a tight blockade, enforced by both Israel and Egypt, since the Hamas political organisation took control of the region in 2007.

Hundreds inside the Abu Yousef an-Najjar Sports Centre await entrance through the Rafah border (Photo: Ezz Zanoun, Al Jazeera)
Hundreds await entrance through the Rafah border. (Photo: Ezz Zanoun, Al Jazeera)

Ismail Haniyeh, a senior political Hamas leader stated: “There are thousands of people on the waiting list. We all hope the crossing will be opened permanently.”

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