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Egyptian promises of improving conditions for Gazan travellers is a ‘lie and deception’: locals

Locals of the besieged coastal enclave said on Monday that all Egyptian facilities of Gazans’ travelling are a mere “lie and deception”, mentioning that returnees from Cairo still experience a convoluted experience.

Speaking to The New Arab, Mustafa Abdel-Karim, a Gaza-based father of four, expressed shock over the still-present arbitrary Egyptian measures against travellers during their return to the Gaza Strip.

“The Egyptian authorities deceived us. I paid about US$140 to go back with my four-member family to Gaza Strip in one day, but unfortunately, they forced us to stay overnight in Al-Arish,” Abdul Karim, who had just arrived at the Rafah crossing, said.

“It seems that the Egyptians are enjoying themselves while they practice the harshest types of psychological torture against travellers from the Gaza Strip (..) They treat us as if we are their enemies,” he said, stressing that “Egypt’s policy seems to be mainly based on insulting the Gazans.”

Last Thursday, Salama Maarouf, head of the Hamas government’s media office told The New Arab that Egypt decided to ease up on travel restrictions for Gazans through the Rafah crossing to Cairo.

“The Egyptian authorities informed his government that travel facilities through the Rafah crossing will begin next Saturday,” he said.

According to Maarouf, travellers will be transported through the Rafah crossing back and forth via “well-equipped” and “reasonably priced” buses (amounting to around US$35) through the “Long Live Egypt” tunnel.

However, based on testimonies of travellers, it’s not working out that way.

Wafaa al-Hajj arrived at the Rafah border crossing after 40 hours of travel, heavily fatigued by the hot summer.

“I was very optimistic to return with the “Ya Hala” Company, which announced the facilities, but unfortunately they proved to us the opposite,” the 39-year-old young woman told The New Arab.

“Usually, I rent a car for $US20 per person, but we paid $US35 without getting any benefits that commensurate with the promises they made,” she said, believing that the crisis “is a political crisis.”

For his part, Mazen al-Ejlah, a Gaza-based teacher preferred to return to the Gaza Strip by renting a car, especially in light of the lack of clarity regarding the new procedures announced by a Hamas official.

“I did not believe that the Egyptian authorities would suddenly end the suffering of the Gazan travellers (…), especially since the matter is related to the political situation between Hamas and Egypt,” he said to The New Arab.

“Egypt has always used the Rafah crossing as a pressure card on Hamas. Is it reasonable to give up this golden card for the Egyptians who are mediating between Hamas and Israel?” the teacher added.

Both Abdel Karim and other travellers demanded that Hamas put an end to “the Egyptian authorities’ recklessness”, and negotiate a means to actually improve travel through the Rafah crossing.

TNA contacted Salama Maarouf for further comment but received no response by the time of this writing.

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