Thursday, 12 September 2013

Gaza Palestinians feel pain of new Egypt border restrictions


(Reuters) - Hooked up to a dialysis machine, Samir Abu Tahoun can only sit and wait for the gates to a new life to open.

For the 57-year-old Palestinian seeking a kidney transplant in Cairo, that means the border crossing from the Gaza Strip to Egypt, whose army-backed government has sharply limited entry from the Islamist Hamas-run territory since the military deposed Islamist president Mohamed Mursi two months ago.

"The crossing has become equal to life for me because if I do not travel, if I do not do the (surgery), I will live the rest of my life in suffering," said Abu Tahoun, a former metal worker.

Like Abu Tahoun, thousands of Palestinians in Gaza are waiting for the Rafah frontier terminal to resume normal operation. They include people seeking medical treatment unavailable in the enclave, students and stranded visitors.

Before Egypt's military ousted Mursi - who Hamas regarded as an ally - in July after mass protests against his rule, some 1,200 people a day used to cross at Rafah, Gaza's main window to the world. Now, Egypt allows in only 250 each day.

Egyptian officials have accused Hamas, a 1980s offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, of supporting anti-government protests and activities - allegations the Palestinian movement denies.

While the political dispute festers, Abu Tahoun receives dialysis treatment three times a week. He had hoped to be in Egypt by now, along with two of his sons so they could be tested as kidney donation candidates. more

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