World’s largest prison sealed behind Rafah again

World’s largest prison sealed behind Rafah again
Sun Sep 22, 2013 22:47:22

Egypt army has sealed off the main crossing to the besieged Gaza Strip which has been suffering from a strict Israeli imposed blockade for years.

Egyptian authorities said the crossing will be shut down in both directions because of deteriorating security in Egypt.

Hamas officials in Gaza said the Egyptian authorities had informed the Palestinian side that the crossing was closed.

“Egyptian authorities notified us that they are closing the Rafah crossing again until further notice,” media outlets quoted Hamas crossing coordinator Maher Abu Sabha as saying.

Hundreds of Palestinians have been stranded on the Egyptian side of the border since Saturday.

On September 11, Egyptian authorities shut down the border crossing following deadly bomb attacks which killed more than 10 people and injured nearly 20 others in north Sinai. The crossing had been temporarily opened for two days in order to allow the exit of sick Palestinians and foreign citizens.

The Egyptian interim authorities also closed the border crossing for several days after the military overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in early July. However, it was later reopened for some specific hours a day.

Over the past months, Egyptian military has also increased its crackdown on supply tunnels leading into Gaza. Impoverished Palestinians are forced to use underground tunnels to bring in essential supplies including food, fuel and medicine.

Some 800 people normally leave for Egypt and beyond through the Rafah crossing, the only passageway leading to the rest of the world for most Gazans.

Gaza blockade

Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza since 2007. Residents of Gaza are blockaded by land, sea and air.

The blockade is denying the Palestinian people access to medical supplies and food.

Hospitals face critical shortages, with 40 percent of all essential medicines at zero stock level, according to a report by the Canada-based Global Research.

Out of the 1.7 million Palestinians living in Gaza 54 percent are food-insecure including 428,000 children.

Israel’s illegal blockade has also led to a massive shortage of building materials to repair the homes, hospitals, schools and water/sanitation infrastructure that have been destroyed/damaged by the regime in the last 5 years.

Most of Gaza’s water supplies are polluted and unsafe to drink. There are power cuts every day as well.

The International Red Cross and the United Nations have found the Israeli government’s siege of Gaza to be illegal under international law.

In September 2011, five independent UN rights experts made a report to the UN Human Rights Council which said that Israel’s siege of Gaza amounted to collective punishment of the Palestinian people and was a “flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law” under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Prominent political thinker Noam Chomsky has described the Gaza Strip as “the world’s largest open air prison.”