The continuing unrest in Egypt has taken a humanitarian and economic toll on the Gaza Strip, as the Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah border crossing on the Egypt-Gaza border amid insecurity in the Sinai Peninsula, and out of fear that Hamas activists would join in the struggle on the side of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt’s military overthrew elected leader President Mohammed Morsi last week, amid days of violent demonstrations. Clashes between Islamists and the military have continued since then, and the country’s economy is in dire straits.
The freedom of movement of Gaza residents, which was restricted to begin with, was further affected by last Friday’s decision to close the Rafah crossing until further notice. A few thousand Palestinians wishing to return to Gaza are stuck outside the territory. 150 of them are on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing. 800 residents who made the pilgrimage to Mecca ahead of the month of Ramadan which begins on Wednesday are stuck in Saudi Arabia, since the Egyptian authorities are not allowing Gaza residents to depart from Cairo Airport, obliging them to return to their port of origin.
A further unknown number of Palestinians are trapped at the airport in Cairo. Due to the Rafah crossing’s closure, an unknown number of Palestinians who work or study abroad are unable to return home for the summer vacation.
Read more at Haaretz.com.