• Rafah

  • Saturday, November 25, 2023 at 8:04 AM
    Last Update : Monday, November 27, 2023 at 2:15 PM

Stranded Palestinians Returning to Gaza Share Ordeal of Being Away During the War

(AWP) - “We felt like we were dying two or three times a day.” This is how Palestinian journalist Abdul-Rahman al-Kahlout described how he felt while he was away from his family for one and a half months since the war started in the Gaza Strip.

On the third day of the Israeli bombing, Kahlout decided to return from Turkey to Egypt so that he could enter Gaza through the Rafah border crossing. However, the attempt failed and left him stranded in the Egyptian city of Sheikh Zuweid, until he was able to cross on Friday when the temporary truce between Israel and Hamas became effective.

Kahlout said, “I wanted to enter Gaza on the third day of the war to be with my family and my people and to resume my work throughout this ordeal. But the Israeli occupation shelled the Rafah border crossing gate while we were there, sending a clear message to separate us and 60 other Palestinians stranded at Rafah to isolate us from the strip and from our lives there.”

He continued, “We have been through an exceptional period of anxiety. We lost contact with our families. We were terrified. During those 45 days, we felt like we were dying two or three times a day.”

Rashad Barbakh, another stranded Palestinian who crossed into Gaza from the Rafah border crossing, said, “I was in Germany. We have been stranded for 47 days. Things were fine. The embassy notified us that people wishing to return to Gaza may enter. There are people who have wives, children, or elderly parents. We had to return to Gaza to support them and alleviate the injustice and harsh tragedy. If we fail to stand by them in these tough days, who will?”

The Egyptian Red Crescent Society announced on Friday that Palestinians stranded in the city of Arish had started entering the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing, also noting that 17 wounded people and five cancer patients left the strip and entered into Egypt.

Raed Abdel-Nasser, the society’s secretary-general, said in a statement that a group of foreigners and people with dual nationality were scheduled to cross from Gaza into the Egyptian side of the border.

He also referred to the entry of seven fuel trucks and 200 humanitarian and medical aid trucks beginning to cross from Rafah into the Gaza Strip as the truce entered into effect.

The truce began at 7:00 a.m. local time (5:00 a.m. GMT), ending 48 days of unabated Israeli shelling that has claimed the lives of nearly 15,000 Palestinians in Gaza and wounded more than 30,000 others.

The General Authority for Crossings and Borders in Gaza announced on Thursday that it had been notified by Egyptian authorities that Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side had begun crossing into the strip through the Rafah border gate as of Friday.

The Palestinian embassy in Egypt confirmed that Palestinians stranded in North Sinai who want to return to Gaza may do so from Friday.

It added that it had also been notified by the Egyptian authorities about allowing the return of stranded Palestinians in Cairo and other Egyptian provinces starting from Saturday.