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Protesters in Ramallah demand Egypt opens Rafah border

Palestinian protesters demand opening of Rafah border at Egypt embassy in Ramallah
4 min read
West Bank
18 February, 2024
As Israel continues to impose a total siege on war-ravaged Gaza, Palestinians demand Egypt to open the Rafah crossing point for humanitarian aid.
Palestinians protesting in front of Egypt's embassy in Ramallah on Sunday in support of Gaza and demanding the opening of the Rafah border [Qassam Muaddi /TNA]

Dozens of Palestinians protested on Sunday in front of the Egyptian embassy to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank.

Protesters demanded the opening of the Rafah crossing point to allow humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip and not allow the displacement of Palestinians into Egypt.

The Rafah crossing point, the only entry to the Gaza Strip other than from Israel, has been blocked in the face of humanitarian aid to the Strip, where more than two million Palestinians face starvation according to the UN.

Protesters demanded the opening of the Rafah border by Egypt [Qassam Muaddi /TNA]

Immediately after the 7 October attack on Israel, Israel imposed a total siege on the Gaza Strip, blocking the entry of electricity, water, fuel, food and medicine. The Rafah crossing point, however, is controlled partly by Egypt.

Israel has accused Egypt of being responsible for closing the Rafah crossing point. Egypt, for its side, has responded by saying that it can’t open the border entry unilaterally since the Israeli army doesn’t allow people and goods to enter.

In mid-January, the commissioner general for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA said that Israel was the side responsible for blocking entry through the Rafah crossing point.

On Sunday, Palestinian protesters held signs that called for the opening of the Rafah crossing point and accused Egypt and its leader Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi of complicity in the genocide. Protesters also chanted slogans in support of Gaza.

“Egypt is supposed to have sovereignty over the Rafah crossing point, after all, it is between Egypt and a Palestinian territory”, a protester in front of the Egyptian embassy in Ramallah who asked not to be named, told The New Arab.

Egypt can’t enforce the opening of the crossing point because it doesn’t have real sovereignty, because its government is too compromised politically through its relations with the occupation state”, said the protester. “This makes the Egyptian government complicit in the siege of our people in Gaza and in the ongoing genocide”, they added.

“Egypt can’t argue that the occupation is not allowing the crossing of humanitarian aid into Gaza while it is not exercising any pressure to let the aid in”, another protester, who asked not to be named, told TNA.

Protesters who tried to reach the Egyptian embassy's fence were held back by Palestinian security [Qassam Muaddi /TNA]

“Egypt could pressure the opening of the Rafah crossing point by opening it and standing up to its responsibility, but instead it is preparing the space in the Sinai desert to allocate the people of Gaza whom the occupation wants to expel out of the Strip”, the protester went on.

“Egypt is not only participating in the starvation of our people in Gaza but is also enabling a new Nakba to take place through its border”, they stressed.

On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Egypt is preparing a walled area in the Sinai desert to allocate displaced Palestinians from Gaza, as Israel prepares a ground invasion in Rafah.

In late December, Israeli member of the Knesset and former Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon said in a media interview that Israel was planning to allow ‘voluntary migration’ of Palestinians from Gaza, comparing their displacement to the displacement caused by the war in Syria.

Israel’s minister of finance, Bezalel Smotrich, also voiced his support for the displacement of Palestinians out of the Gaza Strip.

Israel continues its assault on the Gaza Strip into its fifth month, killing so far around 29.000 Palestinians, 70 percent of them women and children according to the Palestinian health ministry.

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Nearly 1.4 Palestinians are crowded in Rafah, in the southmost of the Gaza Strip, after hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced from the northern and central Gaza Strip under Israeli bombing, since 7 October.

On Thursday, the UN warned that an Israeli ground invasion in Rafah would be a ‘disaster beyond imagination’.