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The Rafah Crossing: Gazans' Vital Lifeline Amidst War and Its Operational Mechanism


"Humanitarian Crisis Unfolds: Gaza Struggles Amidst Israeli Blockade

As the specter of an Israeli ground operation looms in the south of the Gaza Strip, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians find themselves in a dire situation. Israel's blockade, encompassing land, air, and sea, has isolated Gaza, leaving its 2 million residents helpless. Following a brazen attack on October 7 that claimed 1,400 lives, Israel has escalated its offensive, cutting off essential supplies like water, electricity, food, and fuel.

For many Gazans, the border crossing with Egypt at Rafah represents a potential escape route. However, this crucial lifeline is presently closed, with only a brief opening allowing a limited convoy of 20 trucks, laden with vital supplies, to enter Gaza. Egyptian authorities reported that the trucks carried medicine, medical supplies, food, and water. While this temporary reopening was welcomed by international organizations, aid workers emphasize that the delivered supplies are a mere fraction of what Gaza urgently requires.

According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, the initial aid convoy addressed only 3% of the daily health and humanitarian needs that were regularly supplied before the recent aggression. CNN's calculations reveal a staggering shortfall of over 7,200 truckloads of aid between October 7 and October 22. The World Food Programme (WFP) has declared the situation in Gaza as 'catastrophic' due to the acute shortages, urging for the immediate allowance of more aid into the territory.

WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain underscored the gravity of the situation, describing widespread starvation in Gaza. She emphasized the need for continuous aid deliveries to prevent millions of people from succumbing to starvation. Urgent calls resonate for more substantial international intervention to address the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza."

"US Pressures Egypt for Humanitarian Corridor in Gaza Amidst Escalating Conflict"

Amid the escalating conflict in Gaza, the United States has been urging Egypt to establish a humanitarian corridor for both civilians and foreigners seeking refuge. However, Egypt has expressed reluctance to allow a mass influx of refugees into its territory and, instead, insists on delivering aid directly to Gazans with Israel's cooperation.

The opening of the border presents a complex challenge, requiring approval from multiple parties. Egypt and Hamas, which control the Rafah crossing, must agree, along with Israel, which has been conducting airstrikes in the region. Egypt seeks assurances that aid convoys will not be targeted by Israeli bombings.

Negotiations are ongoing between Israel and the US to potentially reach an agreement allowing more aid into Gaza. The initial convoy of 20 trucks that crossed from Egypt through the Rafah border contained food, water, and medical supplies but lacked fuel. Reports indicate that despite the urgent need for fuel in Gaza's hospitals and schools, none was delivered in the aid convoy.

The Rafah crossing, situated in Egypt's north Sinai, serves as the sole border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. The 8-mile fence along the border separates Gaza from the Sinai desert. Over the past 70 years, Gaza has changed hands multiple times, falling under Egyptian control in 1948, captured by Israel in 1967, and eventually taken over by Hamas in 2007. Since then, both Egypt and Israel have imposed strict controls on their borders with Gaza, with Israel further enforcing a blockade on sea and air travel and enclosing the territory with a heavily fortified border fence. The situation remains highly challenging, with the region facing critical shortages and escalating tensions."

"Rafah Crossing: Gaza's Sole Gateway Amidst Closures and Restrictions

Before the recent conflict, Israel had two crossings with Gaza: Erez for the movement of people and Kerem Shalom for goods. Both were heavily restricted and have been closed since the war's commencement, leaving the Rafah crossing with Egypt as Gaza's only connection to the outside world. On average, 27,000 people crossed this border monthly as of July this year, with closures often tied to security and political conditions.

While Israel doesn't directly control Rafah, Egypt's closure patterns often align with Israel's restrictions on Gaza. Following the 1982 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula and opened Rafah. Between 2005 and 2007, the EU managed the crossing, facilitating an average of 1,500 people per day. After Hamas' takeover in 2007, Egypt and Israel tightened restrictions. In 2008, a breach prompted temporary access, but Rafah has since been tightly controlled.

Access through Rafah is limited; only those with permits and foreign nationals can use it. Gazans often face lengthy waits, with bureaucratic processes lasting up to three months. The crossing's dynamics reflect the challenging conditions faced by Gaza's residents amid geopolitical complexities and ongoing conflicts."

"Rafah Crossing: Complex Procedures and Geopolitical Challenges

Accessing the Rafah Crossing involves a rigorous process for travelers. An exit permit from Hamas and an entry permit from Egypt are mandatory. Travelers submit documents to a Hamas government office for exit permits, receiving notification of their departure day, which might be up to three months later. On the departure day, a bus transports them to the Egyptian border, where they face hours of waiting for visa processing. Unfortunately, many are turned away, and Palestinians report mistreatment by Egyptian authorities.

Egypt, already hosting millions of migrants, expresses unease about the potential influx of Palestinian refugees. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi acknowledges sympathy but emphasizes the need for a cautious approach to maintain peace and safety without significant costs. Concerns also arise about turning Gazans into refugees once again, with the majority already registered by the UN as descendants of those from areas now part of Israel.

Efforts are underway to address the humanitarian crisis, with Egypt calling on Israel to allow aid through Rafah. However, calls for establishing a safe corridor for civilians within Egyptian territory remain unfulfilled. The geopolitical complexities surrounding Rafah Crossing underscore the challenges faced by the Gazan population amid the ongoing conflict."

"In conclusion, the situation at the Rafah Crossing epitomizes the multifaceted challenges faced by the Gazan population amidst the current conflict. With Israel's closures of Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings, Rafah becomes the sole gateway for civilians seeking an exit, presenting a complex process requiring exit permits from Hamas and entry permits from Egypt.

The stringent procedures involve document submissions to Hamas, resulting in departure notifications often issued months later. Upon reaching the Egyptian border, travelers encounter lengthy waits for visa processing, with many being turned away and reporting mistreatment. Egypt, already hosting a significant migrant population, expresses concerns about a potential influx of Palestinian refugees, emphasizing the need for a cautious approach to balance sympathy with practical considerations.

Efforts to address the humanitarian crisis include calls for Israel to allow aid through Rafah, though the establishment of a safe corridor within Egyptian territory remains unfulfilled. Geopolitical complexities surrounding Rafah Crossing underscore the challenging circumstances faced by Gazans, leaving them caught in the crossfire of regional tensions and international politics during a critical time."