For weeks, Egyptian officials have debated whether to open the Rafah crossing into Gaza, but the cost of opening the crossing. At the same time, it could help seriously injured Palestinians leave the area and could also bring in a surge of Palestinian refugees.
“We are prepared to sacrifice millions of lives to ensure that no one encroaches upon our territory,” Egypt’s prime minister, Mostafa Madbouly, said earlier this week.
The Rafah crossing is the main avenue through which people, goods, and aid cross into Israel. Egypt controls it.
“It doesn’t work the way a normal border does. It is selective, and it can be activated or deactivated. It’s not an invisible border like the ones you find in the Schengen Area or across state lines in the US. You can’t cross freely with your car. It’s not open 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” says Lorenzo Navone, a sociologist specializing in borders and conflicts at the University of Strasbourg.
According to Reuters, thousands of displaced Palestinians have crammed into the Rafah area to escape Israeli attacks, the United Nations said on Wednesday.
The U.N. humanitarian office said in a report that most of the displaced people in Rafah were sleeping without tents because of the lack of shelters available. However, the U.N. said it had distributed a few hundred tents.
A new camp area constructed in Rafah near the crossing.— Hind Khoudary (@Hind_Gaza) December 6, 2023
My friend shared with me these photos as he slept in the tents yesterday.
He told me that there is no bathrooms or water.
He told me it is unbearable and humiliating.
He came back to Deir El Balah, he couldn’t handle it. pic.twitter.com/1aHsIiX3Sq
Meanwhile, Egypt’s authoritarian president, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, has said it would not support forcing people into displacement.
“Egypt has affirmed, and is reiterating, its vehement rejection of the forced displacement of the Palestinians and their transfer to Egyptian lands in Sinai, as this will mark the last gasp in the liquidation of the Palestinian cause, shatter the dream of an independent Palestinian state, and squander the struggle of the Palestinian people and that of the Arab and Islamic peoples over the course of the Palestinian cause that has endured for 75 years,” he said.
Those who have managed to cross Rafah have been selected as part of an unclear process that The Guardian says seems to be negotiated between Israel and Egypt in Qatar.
Antony Blinken, the U.S. Secretary of State, will be in the region Friday and hopes to encourage more people out of Gaza and, thus, the release of more hostages.
The U.N. said that it has deployed some 59 trucks of water, food, and medicine to Gaza through Rafah.
The @PalestineRCS teams received 69 aid trucks 🚛through the Rafah crossing today, containing essential supplies. Despite the challenges in receiving and distributing aid.#Gaza#HumantarianAid pic.twitter.com/g7AnOCiYKo— PRCS (@PalestineRCS) December 7, 2023
Prior to the blockade, some 500 to 800 aid trucks entered Gaza daily, but since the closure, the largest convoy has been 217 trucks in one day.
Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/Mahmoud Khaled / Stringer
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.