CAIRO: Hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza continued Tuesday to amass near the Rafah border crossing for the second day running calling for it to be opened so they could pass through.
The protestors were not visible from the Egyptian side of Rafah due to the border wall and all seemed calm, according to sources in the area.
The Palestinians have been gathered at the border since Saturday, calling for the crossing to be opened so pilgrims can travel onto Mecca for the Hajj and other Gazans can receive medical treatment in Egypt.
Egypt had opened the Rafah crossing earlier this month to allow Gazans through specifically for the reasons mentioned but the numbers allowed entry was apparently not enough.
“It is not enough time to open the crossing for two or three days, said local coordinator for Palestinian affairs in the area Abdel-Sattar El-Ghalban, “There are still thousands of Gazans who need urgent medical attention. There is real suffering in Gaza and a lack of many things.
Egypt had sent 400 troops to the crossing Monday in anticipation of any possible outbreak of violence, but Rafah journalist Mustapha Singer said that there had been no hint of trouble from the gatherers.
El-Ghalban said an attempt to breach the border wall was highly unlikely.
Gaza is currently under a blockade because of Hamas rule in the strip, and although Israel allowed supplies to enter the strip on Monday, Gaza still suffers from massive shortages due to the siege.
The Rafah terminal is subject to an agreement between Egypt and Israel, and cannot be opened without the presence of EU monitors.
El-Ghalban was at pains to point out that Egypt was not responsible for the suffering in Gaza, and laid the blame squarely at warring Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas.
“Egypt is playing a huge role in helping the Palestinians, but it is obliged to honor its international agreements. We as Palestinians should solve our own differences before expecting anything from anyone, he said.
The shortages in Gaza have led to an increase in smuggling of goods through tunnels dug beneath the border.
On Monday, 150 people in Al-Arish demonstrated against fuel shortages which have resulted from the smuggling in the area near the Gaza border.
“Smuggling to Gaza through tunnels has led to a drastic reduction in fuel supplies at petrol stations, in the area, Mohammed Hussein from the Sinai governorate told AFP.