AOHR UK: Egypt’s closure of Rafah crossing a crime against humanity
The Arab Organization for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) condemned Wednesday the “repressive measures” practiced by Egyptian officials at Rafah border crossing against Palestinian travelers.
Last week, 3,000 Gazan pilgrims managed to pass through Rafah crossing en route to Saudi Arabia to perform the annual pilgrimage while 1000 travelers were allowed to leave Gaza on Saturday and Sunday and Tuesday, according to the statement.
Meanwhile, 2,500 stranded people managed to return to Gaza Strip during the same period. However, more than 30,000 Palestinians are still in need of travel, while thousands others are stranded on the Egyptian side waiting to return to the Gaza Strip.
AOHR pointed out that Palestinian travelers are subjected to humiliation and ill-treatment at the hands of Egyptian officials at the Rafah crossing. They are forced to wait for long hours and some time for a whole day outside the external gates in spite of the hot weather, the organization said.
On Tuesday, the Egyptian soldiers fired into the air, which led to a state of fear and panic among the travelers especially women and children.
Palestinian travelers are forced to pass through 20 security checkpoints before passing the crossing where they are subjected to humiliating search. Some travelers are forced to pay bribes for Egyptian soldiers up to 3,000 dollars to facilitate their passage, according to the statement.
AOHR called on the international community to press the Egyptian authorities to permanently open Rafah crossing. Meanwhile, the Palestinian authority for border crossings said that 975 travelers were allowed to pass via Rafah crossing in both directions on Tuesday.
603 travelers managed to leave Gaza, while 372 stranded people were allowed to return home. 68 others were prevented from leaving the besieged Strip.
Egypt has upheld an Israeli military blockade on the Gaza Strip for the majority of the past three years, since the ousting of former President Muhammad Morsi in 2013 and the rise to power of President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt.
While the Egyptian border has remained the main lifeline for Gazans to the outside world, Egyptian authorities have slowly sealed off movement through the border since Morsi was toppled by the Egyptian army.