Stranded Palestinians angry at being exploited
AL-ARISH/RAFAH: Palestinians stuck on the Egypt Gaza border as the Rafah crossing remains closed are getting angrier by the day. As their despondence and desperation grow, the object of their anger begins to loom large – and it is not Israel this time, but their own Fatah and Hamas.
The Palestinians stranded in Rafah and Al-Arish feel they have been deserted by their rulers, used as pawns in the power struggle between the factions in the Palestinian territories.
At a community center in Al-Arish sheltering around 70 Palestinians in makeshift tents, Umm Ziad shouted, “We don’t want anything from the Palestinians, Fatah or Hamas. They are not asking about us, they are sitting in their air-conditioned offices. We don’t deserve this.
She then bursts into tears.
Upon seeing this, a man nearby screams, “Hamas and Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] are dogs. Let them leave. They are playing cards with us. They are money organizations; they care about money, not dealing with their people.
There is anger, not only aimed at Hamas and Fatah, but also the other Palestinian factions such as Islamic Jihad and the National Front for Palestinian Liberation. They are perceived as the reason why the thousands of Palestinians are stranded in Egypt.
In Sheikh Zwayed in Rafah, Salem El-Farra s diabetes has progressed. It seems he will soon have to amputate his foot. “The people in power [in Palestine] do not concern us anymore, said El-Farra.
“We are [instead] looking at the people who can solve this problem, he added.
Local coordinator for Palestinian Affairs Abdel Sattar El-Ghalban told The Daily Star Egypt, “we asked Hamas to not approach the border and they have dealt with the situation with great diplomacy.
As anger towards the Palestinian factions continues, the Palestinian people are counting on Egypt to resolve the situation.
Almost every Palestinian The Daily Star Egypt met called on President Hosni Mubarak to end their dire situation.
Raid Ibrahim at Sheikh Zwayed was a member of the Fatah police force. He was shot in the leg during the clashes which engulfed Gaza last month and saw Hamas take control of the Strip.
“Hamas attacked my post. We were standing guard and rockets were fired at us before we were surrounded by Hamas soldiers. They shot my fellow soldiers in the head, killing ten of them. I was shot in the leg but I fled, he told The Daily Star Egypt.
Ibrahim got the bullet removed in Cairo, and paid for the operation himself. He wants to go back to Gaza for further treatment. When asked if it was dangerous for him to return to Gaza because of his affiliation with Fatah, he seemed nonplussed, saying “There is no danger if I return, I am just a soldier. Hamas want the big heads, not mine.
Some 700 Rafah residents held a demonstration on Sunday over fears that the Egyptian government would level their homes because of their proximity to the border as a measure to end the smuggling of arms across the wall.
This comes in compliance with an old decree that all buildings should be moved 150 meters from the border. A land survey by local officials two days earlier raised the residents’ fears.