An interesting detail in a UN Security Council briefing by the Assistant Secretary General last Thursday:
I also encourage the Egyptian authorities to re-open the Rafah crossing while taking into account Egypt’s legitimate security concerns. Humanitarian concerns are growing with around 17,000 registered people, including patients, waiting to exit Gaza, in addition to 37,000 others who wish to exit Gaza.I knew that a couple of thousand people would normally gather at the Rafah crossing on the rare days it was open.I had no idea that some 54,000 Gazans were actively trying to cross into Egypt.
The weekly OCHA-OPT report indicates that many of the 37,000 others who want to leave desire to go to Mecca for pilgrimage.
The Rafah crossing has been closed since December 21. (It is scheduled to open on Tuesday for three days.) I have yet to see any human rights organization refer to this closure as "collective punishment" unless it was positioned as some sort of collusion with Israel.