|Gazans waiting at Rafah crossing|
From Al Jazeera:
Egyptian officers are asking for bribes of up to $10,000 from Palestinians in Gaza desperate to leave the besieged coastal enclave, according to Gaza brokers who coordinate the bribe payments, former Palestinian border officials and travellers.Hold on - you mean, Egypt is imposing a crippling blockade on Gaza?
Typically, an adult in Gaza must pay a bribe of $3,000 to get permission from Egypt to cross the border, two Palestinian brokers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Al Jazeera. The brokers said that they took a 20 percent cut of the bribe, sending 80 percent to the Egyptian soldier or officer who coordinated it.
Sometimes, Egyptian officers put the names of Palestinians on a blacklist, declaring them to be a "security threat", both brokers said. The list forbids entrance to Egypt for those whose names are on it, but a $10,000 payment can have it removed.
Occasionally, the Egyptians want bribes paid in goods, not cash, the brokers said.
"Sometimes, they want iPhones or even gold," said one of the brokers, known in Gaza as the "King of the Border" for his ability to get almost anyone across.
The Egyptian government of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has imposed extreme restrictions on Gaza's Rafah border crossing since the military coup in 2013.
Sisi considers Hamas, the governing body in Gaza, to be an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt - declared a terrorist organisation in 2013 - and has accused Hamas of carrying out attacks on Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula. Hamas has repeatedly denied any role in those attacks.
In the first half of 2013, when former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was in office, an average of 40,816 people crossed between Gaza and Egypt each month. Since Sisi took power, Egyptian officials have rarely opened the border, allowing it to operate for a few days every month or two. This year, the average number of people who cross the border each month is 1,896, according to the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, an Israel-based non-profit organisation.
There are about 30,000 cases of people in Gaza needing to urgently travel abroad for humanitarian reasons, many in order to obtain medical care, Gisha spokesperson Shai Grunberg told Al Jazeera.
Mohamed Abu Abdelqader, a cancer patient in southern Gaza, told Al Jazeera that he would soon die if he were unable to go to a hospital in Egypt to receive proper treatment for his condition. But he says he is unable to, as he cannot afford the $2,000-$3,000 bribe to a broker to arrange his travel.
"I don't have the money," the 55-year-old flower farmer said, appearing on the verge of tears.
It is very rare to read about this in English. Even Gisha, quoted in the article, tries to ignore Egypt's role in Gaza misery (as well as Hamas') in order to keep the focus on Israel almost exclusively.
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