Thursday, February 1, 2007

Dr. Mona El-Farra (and 1.5 million others) stuck in Gaza

Ever since I left Gaza last week I've been checking the news daily to see if the Rafah border opened. And every day there were empty promises of the border crossing opening the next day or in a few days.

Once, the crossing opened to allow people in but until now no one has been able to leave into Egypt (the crossing that I use in the north is only for foreigners, diplomats, aid agencies, or people working inside Israel).

Dr. Mona El-Farra, MECA's Director of Gaza Projects, spent several days waiting to travel but the conference she was to speak at opened two days ago so she finally unpacked her bags. You can read Mona's account of this experience on her blog and also read more about it on the Guardian's comment is free page.

The reality is so absurd that I have trouble grasping it. It's the equivalent of sealing of the city of San Francisco from all directions and only allowing people in and out through 101. Then guaranteeing 101 will also be open for "ease of movement." And then closing 101 while making announcements about when it will be open in the future that rarely are true. So people book flights out of SFO, set meetings with colleagues in San Mateo and plan to visit family in Santa Cruz. They wake up each morning for the whole week before the flight, meeting or visit prepared to leave only to find the border closed again and again and again.

Obviously, that's not a perfect analogy but it helps me see how ridiculous, painful and crazy-making the border situation is for Gazans.

No comments: