The high price to escape Gaza: Palestinians paying up to $10,000 in bribes

Al Jazeera surmises that the desperation Gazans have to leave the peninsula is evidence of the dismal conditions in Gaza.

September 6, 2016 13:04
1 minute read.
Rafah border crossing

A Gaza woman waits at Rafah for a travel permit to cross into Egypt, June 14.. (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)

Palestinians are paying up to $10,000 in bribes to Egyptian border officials to escape the Strip, Gazan bribe brokers told Al Jazeera on Monday.

According to the report, the typical bribe for a Gazan adult is $3,000, with 20 percent going to the brokers and 80% to the Egyptian soldier coordinating the passage. In the case of individuals who've found their way onto Egypt's black list of "security threats" who are forbidden entry to the country, the illegal crossing pay-off rises to $10,000. Egyptian guards accept cash, "iPhones or even gold."

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Al Jazeera surmises that the desperation Gazans have to leave the coastal enclave is evidence of the dismal conditions in Gaza, and cites a 2015 United Nations report that predicted that at this rate, due to dysfunctional infrastructure, Gaza will be "uninhabitable" by 2020.

According to a July 17 report by Gisha, an Israeli NGO and legal action center dedicated to freedom of movement, the last time the Rafah Crossing was opened was for five days in late June and early July. 

During that time, 4,581 people crossed the border with 2,961 exits from Gaza to Egypt and 1,620 entries from Egypt to Gaza. Exits were only permitted to medical patients, students registered for studies in third countries, foreign passport holders and individuals with residency status abroad, or “special coordination.”

Gisha also reported that since the beginning of 2016, the Rafah Crossing has been open for a total of only 14 days. In 2016, the average number of crossings per month has been 1,896, compared to 40,816 per month in the first half of 2013 when the crossing was in more regular operation.

This crackdown on crossings was due to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's rise to power, according to Al Jazeera. The Egyptian president severely restricted the crossing due to his suspicion that Hamas, the ruling body in Gaza, is an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt declared a terrorist organization in 2013.

Erez Crossing into Israel, the only other way out of Gaza, is severely restricted by the Israeli government.

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