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Egypt: Passport holders stranded in Rafah plead with authorities to be allowed home

Palestinians stranded in Egypt wait to cross the Rafah crossing to the Gaza Strip at Rafah, Egypt, as a temporary ceasefire went into effect Friday, Nov. 24, 2023.   -  
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Mohammed Asad/Copyright 2023The AP. All rights reserved


Dozens of Egyptian passport and ID holders have been stuck in the Gaza Strip for weeks, increasingly desperate for the opportunity to leave the besieged territory and escape the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

"We are staying here in front of the terminal. We have been sleeping here on the chairs for 25 days. There is no solution for us. Every day and every week there are lists of travellers (allowed to cross), but we are surprised that they are not Egyptian, they are Palestinian passport holders. Why? We are originally Egyptians and hold Egyptian passports. We were born in Egypt. Why do they treat us in this way? We want to return to our country to look after our work, and to return to our homeland," said Hossam el-Dein Hafez, Egyptian passport holder. 

Since the war broke out, many Egyptians desperate to escape Israel’s incessant bombing have left their homes in Gaza and camped around the black metal gate on its southern frontier.

Some have been sleeping on chairs outside the crossing terminal, hoping for the chance to be able to return to their homeland.

"It's only me, my mother and sister only. Nobody knocks on our door. My mother is an old lady. She is sick and spent one month in her bed, while we don’t know what to do to help her. We don’t have money to bring her medicine. Nobody helps us. My brother (in Egypt) goes to the embassy every day and has been promised that names will be on the list, but so far nothing happened. We want to travel. Since the war began, we were registered at the embassy. We want to travel. We were born there (Egypt) and never lived through wars here," added Alana Omar, Egyptian passport holder.

Israel has been continuing its aerial bombing across Gaza as part of one of the most devastating military campaigns in recent history.

The war erupted after Hamas killed some 1,200 people and seized around 240 captives in the surprise Oct. 7 attack.

More than 20,900 Palestinians, two-thirds of them women and children, have since been killed, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza, which doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants among the dead.

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