Gaza (---), 16/10/2023.- Palestinians with dual nationalities wait to cross the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, southern Gaza Strip, 16 October 2023. Israel has warned all citizens of the Gaza strip to move to the south ahead of an expected invasion. More than 2,750 Palestinians and 1,300 Israelis have been killed according to the IDF and Palestinian health ministry, after Hamas militants launched an attack against Israel from the Gaza Strip on 07 October. (Egipto) EFE/EPA/HAITHAM IMAD

Gazans gather in desperation near Egyptian border crossing

Anas Baba

Rafah, Gaza, Oct. 16 (EFE). – Without water, electricity, or internet, a crowd of desperate Palestinians gathered on Monday at the Rafah crossing that connects the Gaza Strip to Egypt, waiting for humanitarian aid that has yet to arrive amid rumors of the crossing’s opening.

Hours passed; however, the crossing remained closed for Palestinians, who had seen a glimmer of hope after news in local media indicated that the crossing would be open between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm local time.

Specifically, the people near the crossing were waiting for eight humanitarian aid trucks to enter the Strip and for Palestinians with foreign passports, especially American ones, to be allowed to leave the enclave controlled by the Islamist group Hamas.

The expectation came amid reports that there was an agreement between Egypt, the US, and Israel for a cease-fire in the Strip, which the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later denied.

Palestinians with dual nationalities wait to cross the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, southern Gaza Strip, 16 October 2023. EFE/EPA/HAITHAM IMAD

“There is currently no cease-fire and no humanitarian aid in Gaza in exchange for removing foreigners,” said Netanyahu’s office.

The categorical denial came despite US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s announcement in Cairo on Sunday of an agreement involving the UN, Egypt, and other actors to open the way for aid to Rafah.

However, if any aid were to cross the border, its access to the Gazans would be difficult since, as EFE was able to verify on Monday, the two main streets of Rafah, through which the eight trucks would have to pass from the crossing point, have been completely bombed.

Nevertheless, the difficulties did not deter many Palestinians who approached the crossing, not even the Israeli bombings, such as the one on Monday near the border post.

One of them was Eilen al Tauil, a Palestinian-American who has tried several times to leave through Rafah to avoid Israeli bombing.

“I came to visit Gaza, my (American) passport expired, and then the US Embassy did nothing to help us,” Al Tauil lamented in statements to EFE, in which he denounced that the US legation only helps those in Israel, but not the people of Gaza.

Arish (Egypt), 16/10/2023.- People load a humanitarian aid convoy for the Gaza Strip, parked in Arish, Egypt, 16 October 2023. EFE/EPA/STR

The woman, who lives in Salt Lake City (Utah, US), said that three days ago, she had to evacuate her home because of the bombings. Since then, she has been moving with her family from one place to another, fleeing the Israeli attacks.

“It’s tough,” she added, “we don’t have water in the sinks or the bathrooms,” she said.

Not far from Al Tauil, Ayam, a 17-year-old girl with a British passport, was also waiting for the crossing to open.

“We are trying to leave. We came here two days ago, but it was not open, so we returned home. Today we came back early in the morning,” Ayam told EFE, noting that every time they hear a bomb, they don’t know where it comes from due to the lack of Internet connection.

Ayam and her family want to leave for Egypt when the crossing is opened because, as the teenager explained, the situation in the Strip is “terrible.”

Hamas said on Monday that for the tenth day in a row, Israel has not pumped “a single liter of drinking water” into the enclave, despite Israeli authorities announcing on Sunday that they had resumed partial supplies.

Hamas Ministry of Interior and National Security spokesman Iyad Al Bozum stressed in a statement that the cutoff of drinking water “forces Gazans to drink contaminated water.”

He predicted that this would lead to a health crisis threatening the lives of citizens living in the Strip.

Currently, it is impossible to get a bottle of water in Rafah, as EFE was able to verify by visiting hundreds of small shops in search of liquid suitable for consumption.

A truck of tap water arrived in Rafah and Khan Yunis, and 20 liters per family were distributed among Gazans, who boiled it to kill any possible bacteria.

Tensions have risen enormously since Hamas launched a land, sea, and air assault from Gaza on October 7, leaving at least 1,400 dead, the vast majority civilians, and triggering a harsh counterattack by Israel, which has carried out ten days of bombing in the Gaza Strip, leaving at least 2,808 Palestinians dead and 10,850 injured. EFE