Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash90
Gaza Arabs at the Rafah border crossing

Data provided by UN-affiliated international aid organizations reveal that in 2018 there were 60,907 departures from the Gaza Strip to Egypt via the Rafah crossing, and 37,075 arrivals back into Gaza. From these and comparable figures obtained from other sources, and according to estimates in Israel, the number of departures from Gaza last year reached 35,000.

According to Haaretz, in the beginning, Hamas saw the opening of the crossings as a fresh source of income, since the terror group was able to charge the migrants for passports, and tax visas and additional permits. Then a bribery industry developed around this wave of migration, and today those who want to expedite their procedures and make sure the various permits arrived on time are required to pay government officials a few hundred dollars each.

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Egypt charges Gazans wishing to fly to Europe for transportation from the Rafah crossing to the airport. They must present a flight ticket for the specific departure date, and they are not allowed to stay in Egypt outside the airport area.

Haaretz reported that Hamas has eventually understood that the Rafah crossing allows the Strip’s young, educated and relatively affluent generation, which included 150 medical doctors, to leave en masse, and is now trying to curb this trend. The Hamas government has already forbidden doctors to leave the Gaza Strip.

Many of the departing Gazans fly to Turkey, where they are taken on boats to Greece, to continue on their journey to other European Union countries. Among the dozens of refugees who died when a boat sank off Turkey in April there were 13 Arabs who had fled from Gaza. The trip costs an estimated $4,000 altogether, which the Gazans often borrow from local lenders against their future earnings abroad.

The preferred destinations for those leaving are Germany and Sweden.

Haaretz also reported a rise in hard drug consumption as well as widespread prostitution in the Gaza Strip. There is also a rise in street begging, which Hamas fears chips at the general morale.

On the other hand, suicides have decreased in the Gaza Strip, presumably because Hamas has guaranteed that anyone who is killed by the IDF at border riots would be rewarded with pensions to their families.

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