Yesterday I traveled from Cairo to Gaza. I did not sleep the night before because I was so excited. We left Cairo about 4 AM with six Palestinians returning home, the driver and me. I think Egyptians have a reputation for driving fast. I can confirm that it is true.
When we arrived at the Rafah border, I was very excited and nervous too because I remembered how I was turned away last year. Fortunately, I was granted permission by both Egypt and Gaza to cross. It is not an easy crossing at Rafah. First, we showed our passports to the Egyptian guards at the gate. Then we walked to a large, very old building and showed our passports to Egyptian clerks. Then we took a bus about three blocks to another new building where we showed our passports to Palestinian clerks.
At each step along the way, my foreign passport delayed my progress because everyone had questions and wanted to speak with other officials about my travel to Gaza. My Palestinian travel companions from Cairo did not want to leave me behind. They waited with me at each step so that I would not be alone. I am very grateful for their kindness!
Finally, I was given permission to enter Gaza! I wanted to kiss everyone because I was so happy but I am trying to respect the customs and culture in Gaza, and so I smiled and said “shukran!” a thousand times. 🙂
I am very proud of the Palestinian stamp on my passport.
Several engineers from Gaza met me at the new terminal in Rafah, a very modern facility that opened just recently. Gaza is ready to greet the world. Now Egypt, Israel and the rest of the world must ease the severe travel restrictions which have locked Gaza down for many years.
Later I will share about my first special evening in Gaza.