sufficient. OnJuly 10, for instance, only about 400 persons needing documented medical care,holders of foreign passports and Egyptians were allowed to leave Gaza. On the other side of the border, only about 1,200 stranded Palestinians were allowed to return. Contrast that with a backlog of would-be travellers estimated to be “in the tens of thousands”. Meanwhile, the ban
on Palestinian air travel into Egypt remains.
Destruction of tunnels causing severe fuel shortages
Meanwhile, Palestinians are suffering in other ways as well. Even before anti-Morsi protests broke out on June 30, Egypt had intensified its destruction of the tunnels between Egypt andGaza, tunnels that Gazans rely on for a majority of their fuel and construction materials. Thisresulted in severe shortages as well as steep price hikes. Although fuel is available from Israel, itis too expensive for the average resident of Gaza. According to the Palestinian Centre for HumanRights, the majority of gas stations have been forced to close. Iyad al-Qatarawi, public relationsmanager for the Environmental Quality Authority in Gaza, told
on July 8 that the fuelcrisis threatens to shut down the 190 oil wells (which need electricity to pump) that serve most of the citizens of Gaza, as well as 57 stations for collecting and disposing of sewage. A spokesmanfor the Ministry of Health in Gaza added that only 20 per cent of its gas reserves remain.“Ramadan is for worshipping, but in Gaza thousands are waiting in gas stations to fill their taxis,trucks and tuck-tucks [three-wheel motorcycles],” wrote journalist Mohammed Omer onFacebook. “This is also a form of worship under unbearable sun.”Egypt has not only restricted land access, but sea access as well. On July 8, the Egyptian navyfor the first time reportedly opened fire at a Gazan fishing boat, warning it away from Egyptianwaters. Until then, it was Israel alone that prevented Palestinians in Gaza from venturing far enough out to get a catch decent enough to make a living.
Palestinians accused of fomenting rebellion
What is the rationale for this crackdown on Gaza? Although no credible evidence has beenrevealed, Egyptian media are rife with rumours accusing Hamas of sending in operatives tosupport the deposed Muslim Brotherhood government – including several armed attacks onEgyptian soldiersand checkpoints in the Sinai. On July 13,
reported that after armed assailants attacked security checkpoints in the Northern Sinai, three Palestinian suspectswere apprehended, who ” provided the police with important information during interrogation”.Given the track record of Egyptian security, that statement conjures up images of torture. Inresponse, the publication said, ” a warplane dropped flyers over the residents of Al-Arish (asmall seaside town) reading: ‘To the honourable people of Sinai, this is your armed forces. Beassured… we are here to protect you, so please do not allow any person who does not belong tothis pure land to attack us.’”The people who are accused of not “belonging to this pure land,” are – as usual – thePalestinians, whose families were forced from their ancestral lands to become refugees no oneseems to want.