I’m having a problem returning to Gaza. I lived there for more than 3 months (Oct-Dec 2012). After a short break in Cairo, I want to return to Gaza but I was turned away at the border by Egyptian guards. See here.
So what’s the problem?
The Egyptian and Palestinian authorities have assured me that they have no problems with my passage into Gaza. They recommend I check with the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
Here’s what the U.S. Department of State says about traveling to Gaza on its website.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
December 20, 2012
“The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid travel to the Gaza Strip, which is under the control of Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization, by any means, including by sea. U.S. citizens in Gaza are advised to depart immediately. The security environment within Gaza, including its border with Egypt and its seacoast, is dangerous and volatile. Exchanges of fire between the Israel Defense Forces and militant groups in Gaza take place regularly, and civilians have been caught in the crossfire in the past. Although the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt allows for some passenger travel, prior coordination with local authorities — which could take days or weeks to process — is generally required, and crossing points may be closed for days or weeks. Travelers who enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing must also exit through the Rafah crossing, and those entering the Gaza Strip may not be able to depart at a time of their choosing. Because U.S. citizen employees of the U.S. Government are not allowed to enter the Gaza Strip or have contact with Hamas, the ability of consular staff to offer timely assistance to U.S. citizens is extremely limited.”
I have some questions for US Embassy staff.
1) Why is the US involved with the Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza?
2) How is the US involved at the Rafah border?
3) Does the US coordinate with Israel at the Rafah border?
4) Does the US coordinate with Egypt at the Rafah border?
5) Does the US coordinate with the Palestinian Authority at the Rafah border?
6) What written agreements exist between the US and Egypt/Israel about the border crossing at Rafah?
This is going to be an interesting meeting.