Sunday, July 08, 2007

The invisible 5000

About 5000 people are estimated to be trapped on the borders of Gaza, since Hamas took effective military control of the strip. The egyptions under pressure from the US have banned them from approaching the Rafah crossing. Coming under brutal treatment from Israeli and Eygption forces, the lives of these invisible people are made intolerable . This article in al-Ahram exposes the suffering that the western media is studiously ignoring:
"I have been here for 23 days," said Ashraf Mohamed from Rafah, Gaza. "I have been staying with my son at the Safa Hotel in Arish, but I have been unable to cover the expenses of the hotel for the past two weeks. The hotel owners know this; it's just as well that they have kind hearts and are willing to put us up anyway. I have completely run out of money........"It is significant though unsurprising -- particularly given US threats to cut $200 million in military aid to the Cairo government, linked to demands to improve security on the Egypt-Gaza border -- that security forces have ensured the virtual disappearance of these stranded Palestinians from the public eye.......... "Neither the Egyptians nor the Israelis want to know we exist right now," said Mahmoud, who asked that his full name be withheld. "They formulate their policies, and we bear the burden. When they catch us, security personnel call us names, pick us up in their trucks, and drop us off at Arish, as far away from the border as possible. They know we don't have much money, and that it will be difficult for us to come back to Rafah."............."We, the Palestinians, are paying the price of Israel's goals," said Ibrahim Al-Ghalban, who entered Egypt along with his brother to get his seven-year-old nephew Mohsen adequate attention for blindness in one eye and poor eyesight in the other. Along with scores of others, they are staying at the house of a Palestinian who is resident in Arish. "Not only are we suffering as we share cramped living space in this house, we are also worrying about our families in Gaza, who are under attack. Ongoing Israeli air strikes have killed and injured dozens. Who will treat the injured in Gaza?" Two major raids have taken place over recent days in Gaza, one 27 June and another 30 June. At least 18 people were killed during these Israeli attacks.....Egyptian security forces have worked to ensure that the Palestinians lie as low as possible, no humanitarian assistance for them has been forthcoming. "I cannot go to the hotels and the houses to ask whether people need help," said Egyptian Red Crescent General Director Magda Al-Shirbini. "As far as we are concerned, there are no Palestinians in Rafah or Arish.".............."It appears to us that the Israelis are again using all means at their disposal, trying to make us beg for any solution, even if it is a bad one," Al-Ghalban said. "But no, we will never accept their solutions. We are human beings! And we demand our human right to live, and to live in dignity with control over our own lives, just like everybody else."
Ironically, the reason given to put $200 million of military aid to Egypt on hold, was to pressure Cairo to 'do more to improve human rights, democracy and border security in Sinai.' Apparently, this double-speak means that the human and democratic rights of Palestinian residents of Gaza must be abused as much as possible to keep congress happy.


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