Sunday, 20 December 2015

Thwarted hopes on Gaza’s border with Egypt


It was extremely difficult for Maher Shawa to accept that the two-day window during which the Rafah crossing opened for humanitarian cases earlier this month had closed before he could get through.

The 67-year-old is in urgent need of heart surgery. He was due to receive treatment, he said, in a Jordanian hospital, where he’d had a first operation in 2004.

“I have my papers completed, and I should have been able to cross the border this time,” Shawa, who spent six years in Israeli prison, said. “I am dying here.”

Shawa is among the thousands of priority cases who have applied for permission to leave Gaza for medical treatment or study abroad, or because they hold foreign passports.

But Egypt has kept Rafah crossing — the sole point of exit and entry for the vast majority of the 1.8 million Palestinians in tiny Gaza — almost entirely closed since October 2014.

Majed Lola and his wife had stayed at the terminal for three consecutive nights in cold weather in order to cross.

The couple is seeking medical treatment for their 5-year-old granddaughter. Her mother has to stay to care for other siblings. Her father was killed in the Israeli assault of 2014.

“We have been waiting for months to hear that the [border would reopen] so Mona can improve her hearing,” Lola said. His granddaughter needs a cochlea implant.

Mona has nearly lost hope. “Doctors told me that I might be totally hearing-impaired if I do not get the operation in time,” the girl said.

Her grandparents, both in their 60s, were tired. The prolonged wait in poor conditions at the crossing had left them fatigued. more

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