Saturday, June 12, 2010

View From The Gaza Border

On Saturday, The Guardian published a series of brief interviews with residents of Gaza queuing up to cross the border into Egypt. For the past three years, Egypt has largely kept the border crossing at Rafah closed in response to Hamas’ takeover of the government in Gaza and Israel’s subsequent blockade. But since Israel’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, Egypt announced the Rafah crossing would be open indefinitely.

Passage through the checkpoint is still monitored by Egyptian guards and there are limits as to who can cross from Gaza: primarily students planning to study abroad, those seeking medical treatment and people with foreign passports; members of Hamas are banned. And the process is slow, leading to wait-times that can stretch into days. With this in mind, The Guardian interviewed several Gazans waiting at the crossing, three interesting themes emerged from their interviews: first were the number of people leaving Gaza for medical treatment in Egypt or at other locations further abroad, a testimony to the toll the blockade has taken on basic services in Gaza; second, despite the hardships that mark the daily lives of most Gazans, the people The Guardian talked to by and large didn’t want to leave the Gaza Strip, at least not permanently; and third, despite widespread criticism aimed at the United States for acting as Israel’s chief patron (and according to some, serving as accomplice to Israel’s oppression of the Gaza Strip), one young girl interviewed hoped to leave Gaza to study in the United States, adding “I love America – it's a wonderful country and culture.”
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