From Gaza Action Ireland, for immediate release
Egypt’s closure of Rafah crossing brings death to Gaza
The Egyptian government’s closure of the border crossing to Gaza is causing death and devastation in the Palestinian territory, according to Irish activists with contacts there.
This week a patient in Gaza died because, doctors said, he could not travel through the Rafah checkpoint for essential surgery in Jordan.
He was named by medical sources in Gaza as father-of-five Wael Abu-Sada, aged 40, the Middle East Monitor reported. Abu-Sada had suffered from a chronic heart condition.
“This sort of death was very common during Mubarak’s reign in Egypt, when his government cooperated with Israel in maintaining a stranglehold on Gaza from 2006 onward,” said trade-union activist Mags O’Brien of Gaza Action Ireland (GAI), who met with medical and emergency-service workers in Gaza earlier this year.
“But after the 2011 revolution in Egypt it got easier to get through Rafah,” she added. “Now the new Egyptian regime is taking Gaza back to the bad old days. This sad death is only the tip of the iceberg: the results are devastating.”
According to the Middle East Monitor, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza says 9,500 people have now registered to travel through the Rafah Crossing. It said that 4,500 of them are patients and students in urgent need to travel for treatment or to attend school — many are losing scholarships and university places outside Gaza. Prior to the military coup in Egypt, as many as 1,200 people per day crossed legally at Rafah.
“Palestinians in Gaza are fully locked in by this siege, with the opening of their only two border crossings dependent on the whims of Israel at Erez and Egypt at Rafah,” said Zoë Lawlor, a spokesperson for GAI who also visited Gaza earlier this year. “The Israeli blockade is being enforced on all sides and the lifeline via the Rafah crossing into Egypt is rarely operational.”
After the ouster of Mohammed Morsi in July, the Egyptian authorities also destroyed many of the tunnels which provide a lifeline to the people of Gaza — often the only means by which Palestinians in the Strip can access goods, so many of which are not allowed to enter due to the Israeli blockade.
“Of course, the root cause of this is Israel’s illegal siege on Gaza, which has created a situation whereby the people there are subject to the whims of two different states,” Lawlor said.
GAI repeats its call on the Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah crossing immediately and to guarantee free passage for Palestinians into and out of Gaza: the Irish Government should call on Egypt to do so. Further GAI reiterates the longstanding call for the Irish Government and the EU to demand that Israel abide by international law and end the siege of Gaza.
People are invited to sign the petition, ‘Egypt: Open Gaza’s Rafah Crossing!’
Gaza Action Ireland is a new organisation (with origins in Irish Ship to Gaza) that has forged links in the Palestinian territory with sports clubs, artists, fishermen, journalists, human-rights activists and providers of emergency services.