Home » Aid for Gaza, the border cap: for thousands of trucks entering the Strip is an odyssey

Aid for Gaza, the border cap: for thousands of trucks entering the Strip is an odyssey

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Aid for Gaza, the border cap: for thousands of trucks entering the Strip is an odyssey

AL-ARISH (Egypt) — Truck. Tarpaulinized or not, with or without trailer, with the flag, the signature or the face of the donor on it, which also from the sides promise solidarity with the Palestine. They line up along the streets, crowded into parking lots that have become almost tent cities, queuing to enter. Thousands of them, all loaded with aid, all forced to wait. Dusty from days and nights of desert, they say that Gaza it’s close.

Il Rafah crossing appears suddenly. A gigantic, incongruous, symbol of peace announces the border, just behind it is the border. But the Strip cannot be seen. Walls and barbed wire hide it. On the Egyptian side of the crossing, the 14 Italian parliamentarians who arrived together with activists and operators from Aoi, Arci and Assopace ask for a ceasefire. They shout it in front of the bored soldiers lined up in front of a black gate. «Do you see that building?». It’s yellow, it won’t be more than 200 meters away. «When you pass it – explains Yousef Handouna of EducAid, one of the NGOs in the Aoi network – you are in Palestine». And there is war.

“At least one million children need care and assistance,” they thunder from Ocha. 15 have already died of starvation. “If not now,” says Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the United Nations humanitarian agency, “when will it be time to put on the brakes, break the glass and flood Gaza with the aid it needs?” The trucks and the children by Michele Serra 05 March 2024

Little or nothing passes through the Rafah crossing. In one morning, three trucks manage to enter the Strip. In 24 hours, says Mutaz Banafa of Ocha, a hundred pass through, but for weeks the number has collapsed to 20. Before 7 October there were 550 a day. Now the controls are tight. Weeks can pass between the arrival in Rafah and the transit of a truck across the Strip. “We’ve been here for a month,” the stranded drivers say angrily Al-Arish waiting for their turn to undergo checks. Some are paid by the day, others by the trip. “These are humanitarian aid, what are they waiting for to let us in?” shouts another. Ascari, Boldrini, Fratoianni in the delegation of 15 parliamentarians at the Rafah crossing for the ceasefire. “We are the Italy that says no to war” from our correspondent Alessia Candito 03 March 2024

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Every vehicle must be checked – with X-rays, by men, dogs and with scanners – in Nitzana or Kerem Shalom, 8 km from Rafah. Only then can he return to the crossing and cross the border. As long as he gets a visa from the Israelis. “All it takes is one unauthorized item and the entire load is blocked,” explains Mohammad Noseer of the Egyptian Red Crescent. His “kingdom” is the Logistics center of Al-Arish, where aid arrives, is sorted, and runs aground. «This is the door to hell», says the leader of the Italian Left, Nicola Fratoianni.

Sleeping bags, water purification tablets, oxygen cylinders, maternity kits. All this does not apply to Gaza. Even dates or some toys do not pass inspection. The presence of nail clippers can block a pallet of hygiene or first aid kits for weeks.

Formally the reason is the so-called “dual use”, i.e. the possibility of military use of the goods supplied. And so the tents use tarpaulins – as long as they aren’t military green “because they told us they could become uniform”, explains Noseer – but not the poles to support them. A supply of chocolate snacks was also blocked. They were considered luxury goods and therefore not necessary, while on the other side of the gates there are people literally dying of hunger. Or trivial illnesses. But at the Al Arish Logistics center incubators, wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, oxygen tanks and chemical toilets are stored. «Drugs can pass, but some must stay at a low temperature. And how can I send them there if refrigerators and generators and solar panels to power them are not prohibited?”, one of the logisticians curses. In Gaza, he says, there is no longer a tree. All were used for cooking, heating, surviving.

Help now also comes from the sky. The USA started, others will follow, including Italy. «We must then silence the weapons and move on to politics: we need an international peace conference», invokes Laura Boldrini. At the moment, we are working hard just to reach a truce.

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“If they opened the gates today – says Scott Anderson, deputy director of UNRWA’s Gaza office – at least half of the Palestinians amassed in Rafah would escape.” Today it can only be done by paying, 5 thousand euros each for adults, less for children. Nahed doesn’t have them, so he’ll be the one to return. He was working in Europe when the war broke out, it took him months and 500 dollars to obtain permits. “My son told me I don’t want bread or toys, I only want you.” And he has been waiting for days to cross the pass to return under the bombs.

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