Youth activists from the West Bank presented the following letter to Egyptian Ambassador Yasser Othman on November 1, 2011:
To his exellency Ambassador Yasser Othman,
We, activists from popular committees, workers, farmers, and artists have come here to express our congratulations and support for the peoples revolution of Egypt and to present you with a petition to open the Rafah crossing unconditionally and permanently. This petition was issued by Gaza-based civil society sectors (academics,students, workers, youth) and grass roots organizations and has been supported by , Egyptian revolutionaries and grass-roots organizations as well as renowned International human rights defenders such as Desmond Tutu and Richard Falk as soon as it was issued.
As human rights defenders we are committed to our struggle to break the deadly and criminal Israeli imposed siege on Gaza as an essential part of our struggle to end Israel’s Occupation and Apartheid. There is ,of course, a difference between our struggle against our occupiers and our expectations and hopes form our brothers and allies. The people’s revolution in Egypt has opened the door of hope for a new Arab world grounded in solidarity and freedom. Our hope from the new Egypt is to ensure that Gaza’s only exit to the outside world that is not under the control of Israeli soldiers will be open completely, permanently and unconditionally. Should this not be possible under the current circumstances, then we ask that you consider as a first step doubling the current quota and making the process of crossing more efficient so as to minimize the hardship endured by the people of Gaza.
As we are sure your Excellency would agree, freedom of movement is a basic human right and should not be made subservient to political considerations, especially given that Rafah is the only lifeline the people of Gaza have to the outside world.
The current process, as we are sure your Excellency realize, often results in significant, and in some cases inhumane, suffering on the part of the ordinary residents of Gaza. For example, Gazans often have to register and wait for weeks for “their turn” to leave the territory. Also the nature of the process often requires people to spend over 10 hours to cross, including the time it takes to gather in a collection area in Gaza and be transported by buses to the crossing.
We also feel that Palestinians with foreign passports (who do not carry Palestinian ID cards) should be allowed to visit their families in Gaza.
We gladly acknowledge some recent improvements to the situation in the crossing, the fact that the qouta of people allowed to cross daily has been raised to 500-800 and the fact that some people who were banned from entering Egypt by the previous regime are now being allowed. These improvements are welcomed but they are not enough to eliminate the immense suffering caused by the closure of the crossing.
We ask that the last remnants of the old era’s policy, the daily quota and the list of banned individuals be eliminated as we the people of Palestine and Egypt work together for a future of Justice and dignity.