‘Thousands with humanitarian cases stuck in Gaza’

Gaza-based interior ministry says people with health issues waiting for the opening of Rafah crossing with Egypt.

Palestinian woman sits in front of the gate of Rafah border crossing as she waits for a travel permit to cross into Egypt, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip
Gaza is under blockade by Israel, and Egypt has kept its Rafah crossing largely shut [EPA]

About 20,000 people with “humanitarian cases” are stranded in Gaza, waiting for the opening of the Rafah crossing between the besieged Palestinian strip and Egypt, the Gaza-based interior ministry has said.

Ministry spokesperson Iyad al-Bazem said on Saturday that the closure of the crossing by Egyptian authorities also threatens the lives of hundreds of people with health problems – including people suffering cancer or heart conditions, or who need urgent surgeries.

In a press release, al-Bazem also said that there were thousands of students and employees, who usually work or study abroad, who remain stuck in Gaza.

“We call on the Egyptian authorities to assess the difficult humanitarian conditions in Gaza and open the Rafah crossing urgently to save what can be saved,” he said.

Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza – which residents refer to as an “open-air prison” – since 2007.

The Rafah crossing is the only access point to the Gaza Strip, run by the Hamas movement.

The boder crossing has largely been shut since Cairo’s Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was toppled by the army in 2013.

Cairo has accused Hamas, which is close to the Muslim Brotherhood, of helping armed groups in Egypt’s Sinai desert, which borders Gaza, attack its security forces. Hamas denies this.

In June, Egyptian authorities opened the crossing for four days to allow Palestinians to travel in and out of the territory for the first time in three months.

According to Palestinian border official Khaled al-Shaer, the Gaza-based government was informed by Egypt that the border crossing will be opened on September 7 and 8 to allow Palestinians planning to perform Hajj to travel to Saudi Arabia.

Al-Shaer told Anadolu news agency that Palestinians stuck in Egypt will also be allowed to return to Gaza on those days.

Source: Al Jazeera