The right to die
Well, the good news is, I write this from an internet cafe in Cairo, with Yousuf sleeping soundly in his stroller by my side. We made it out of Gaza- just barely, within the span of 24 hours that the Rafah Crossing was re-opened on Friday to allow out hundreds of thousands (and i'm not exhaggerating here) trapped students, expatriate Palestinians, sick men, women, and children who need treatement in Egypt and beyond, and so on, in a trip that took just as long. Those were the only categories of Palestinians allowed out of Gaza, with a select 50 more a day allowed out (that doesn't include me-I am a "security threat') through Erez.
We literally did not know whether the crossing would open or not until pre-dawn on Friday, with israeli forces reportedly (according to a senior Palestinain security official) threatening to bomb passenger buses if the PA and Egypt operated the crossing without its approval, all pressure tactics tells me Diana Butto, legal advisor to the Palestinian withdrawal committee, to force Palestinians to accept an Israeli-imposed solution (a circutious route through a crossing called Kerem Shalom) to Palestinian movement that would render our freedom of movement-and sovereingy-null and void.
Local newscasts kept flip-flopping as to whether or not the crossing woudl open, first it was yes but.., then it was no, indefinitely, then it was yes, then no again, and finally "yes, for 48 hours".
That was of course cut short to just around 30 hours, after all hell broke loose in Gaza-which I watch from a distance with great pain, and Israeli decided to collectively punish all of Gaza's Palestinians (a violation of Geneva 4, also a hallmark of an occupying power) by shutting down all crossings indefinitely again right as we left (wait, I thought the occupation was over? Israel was no long in control of the borders? er...)
The Crossing-which is the only route to the outside world for Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinians, was unilaterally shut down by Israel in the beginning of september-which contrary to popular belief and mass media projection-still maintains effective control over the borders and crossings.
we left Gaza at 6am and arrived in Cairo at the same time the next day. it was, to put it mildly, a journey through hell. Much of problem was due to delays because of the backlog of people trying to get through before the crossing would close again, and logistical delays-the Israelis yanked out all the computers and baggage conveyors to make sure that the Palestinians do not operate the crossing unilaterally (that word should be familiar to them...). Still, they were quite speedy adn efficient, and everyone seemed please with their effeciency given their minimal capabilities. the same cannot be said for the egyptians-for which i will reserve a separate blog rant.
Meanwhile, thousands of other Palestinains who were not as lucky as we were remain behind in Gaza, and Egypt. I have spoken to Palestinian families in Gaza whose loved ones died wiating to get medical treatment, and others here in Cairo that who were unable to transport the bodies of their recently deceased relatives to be buried with dignity in their homeland, in Gaza. One right the Israelis have granted us: the right to die.