The Rafah border is Gaza’s only connection with the rest of the world that is not ostensibly controlled by Israel. Rafah is located on the southern end of Gaza adjacent to Egypt.
Israel won’t allow ships to dock at Gaza’s port; and Israel destroyed Gaza’s only airport years ago.
I entered Gaza in 2004 through the Erez checkpoint on the northern border with Israel. It was a difficult crossing then but I’m quite certain it would be impossible to travel through Erez today without a diplomatic passport. I’m not even going to try.
Last year I tried to enter Gaza through the Rafah gate. I arrived late in the afternoon and no one was getting in or out. The border official took my passport and scratched notes in his little book, but refused to allow me to pass. I wrote about that experience here.
There have been high hopes since the ouster of former Egyptian President Mubarak in early 2011 that passage through Rafah might be easier. It wasn’t the case last summer, but since the election of President Mohamed Morsi, hopes have been re-ignited.
Good news today. Aljazeera is reporting that the Rafah gate may be open 24/7. Yes, that’s right. 24 hours every day of the week.
Frankly, I’ll believe it when I see it. But it sure is looking like it will be easier to enter Gaza this summer. Hooray!
Watch this current YouTube video and catch a glimpse of the tunnels built to facilitate trade (and more) between Egypt and Gaza when passage through Rafah is blocked.
When Mubarak was in power, he was Israel’s and America’s puppet. They wanted to prevent freedom of movement for Palestinians in Gaza, and Mubarak kept that gate locked up tight.
President Morsi brings real hope to thousands of people inside and outside Gaza. I hope he doesn’t disappoint.