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Pure hell at the Rafah crossing

“Oh yes! I got the scholarship! I’ll be going to USA for a leadership program,” I said while jumping with happiness after reading the email with news of my approval। I thought I had passed the most difficult step. It wasn’t actually the step that I should have worried about. I realized later that I had rushed my happiness, and that it had been too early to feel like I was in control of everything.

When the time to book my tickets came, the American embassy gave me two options; either to leave through Egypt to the USA, or to go through Erez border to Amman and then to the US. I was confused. I had a flashback of being humiliated in the Erez border when I went to Jerusalem to get my visa for the USA. I thought that was enough of that, and there was no need to go through the same experience again. In the meantime, I had read articles and followed the news that announced the permanent opening of the Rafah crossing. So I quickly decided to go through Egypt, but didn’t know that it was a stupid decision until it was too late.

I was in the middle of a bunch of discordant voices which would eventually end up driving me crazy. Haha, welcome to confusing Gaza! First, I heard that it was not difficult any more to leave through Rafah, and that it was even easier for women. “All you need is your passport and you will leave very easily and quickly.” Most people agreed on that, relying on fake news reported by the media. Later, I realized that this was what should have been implemented, but not what had happened in reality. I had to go the Rafah border and reserve the date of 18th of June to travel. When I went there, I found people fighting because every date before the 22nd of July had already been taken. I was very depressed, thinking that my dream of visiting the USA wouldn’t happen because of a border, but was lucky enough to meet a man who liked me and sacrificed his reservation on the 18th of June for me. Then I thought that there was nothing more to worry about.

The 18th of June came. It was last Saturday. I was at the Rafah border by 7 am. I kept standing for long hours under the burning sun with dad and my friends Joe and Rocky from ISM. I had to beg people to help me. I saw old men and women crying. I realized then that wherever I went, I would get humiliated, and that I shouldn’t have paid attention to what I experienced at Erez, because no matter how hard that was for me, it wasn’t any harder than the humiliation I would face at Rafah. I went back home that day at around 4 pm. I forced myself to sleep to escape from the frustration I felt at having to get up the following day and make a second attempt at crossing. I didn’t only make a second attempt; I had a third, a fourth and a fifth, all for nothing! I used to leave home so early with my suitcase, torturing myself, my family and my friend to return with it after committing around 8 hours there. I’m still stuck in the horrible prison of Gaza.

It is, simply, pure hell at Rafah. Every day I went to the border was harder than the one before it. Every day, I just got more and more frustrated. “There’s only one way you’re going to leave: with a strong connection”- this is the system that the Rafah border follows. Every day I went there, I bled tears for the people who have been struggling to leave for weeks, but couldn’t. There was no mercy for anybody, whoever they were: old or young, sick or healthy, or whatever. It’s not like the movies: it is true drama, so sad and so miserable. For the past five days, I’ve been dying to hear a certain response from anyone working there. Nobody can bother to talk to you or tell you anything, you just have to try and try without stopping.

When people said that I didn’t have to worry anymore about crossing though Rafah, and that I could leave easily and quickly, it seems that they meant that you could leave very quickly, within at least two weeks. Oh, what a joke! But after I went though that hell, don’t think that I am going to surrender. No, I’ll keep going. Persistence is the only way to reach goals, and I’ll reach them eventually.

Why should my dreams be crushed at the Rafah border? Why, after I got a chance that a Gazan can have only once in a lifetime? Why should the media lie about reality? Why should they let us go so far with our dreams, then finally shock us with the reality? Where is the honesty of the media and where is the honesty of leaders, be they Palestinian or Egyptian? Who is responsible for all the suffering that Gazans face at Rafah? We are the victims of a web of lies.

10 responses

  1. Pam

    This is a revealing story…and yes, it flies in the face of everything we are hearing in the media. Do they give you any reason at all for not being able to get out? For how they prioritize who is able to leave? What about the officials with your program? They can't help with the Egyptians? (And I guess you can't change your mind now and go out through Erez…)


    June 23, 2011 at 1:56 pm

  2. GREAT WORDS ! like every single word.. I lived your pain in every single word and yes.. Rafah border is becoming a symbol of humiliation !


    June 23, 2011 at 5:09 pm

  3. Shada,Diane Shammas here. Although Pam and others might disagree with me. Take it from me, Go thru Erez, Rafah is humiliating and I have my horror stories with Rafah (Adie can attest to one of them left sobbing thru the gates while they would not let me through and I am an American citizen, go figure, the country that give 2 billion green to the Egyptian govt. and continues to despite the revolution). If you want to email me: I went thru humiliation also with Erez due to my Arab surname, but at least with that border you might walk with your tail behind your legs but you can reason with them. Both borders are abysmal, this is true. I have passed once thru Rafah and the rest of the times Erez.


    June 23, 2011 at 7:52 pm

  4. I am so sorry about how difficult it is for you to go across Rafah. i hope and pray you can make it to USA and get your scholarship and attend the leadership program. Palestinians need more people like you.-Sabina


    June 23, 2011 at 9:05 pm

  5. Inshalla you will go soon sister. I am so sorry for all the pain you have gone through. None of this is right and i will help to spread your words. Please take care of yourself and may allah bless you forever and always.


    June 24, 2011 at 8:13 am

  6. Don't give up. Don't give up on making it to the USA.Don't give up on having your own country. Don't give up on your writing. With hope, from England.


    June 27, 2011 at 4:09 pm

  7. Hello SHAHD Ahab Call was hard long means many colors you see on the Dalk Inni you Rvatk me and I converted my tireless and ongoing for you, but no luck Ihlvk wish success and happiness


    July 17, 2011 at 4:28 am

  8. Pingback: Gaza’s only exit to the outside world is closed in front of students and patients | PALESTINE FROM MY EYES

  9. Pingback: Gaza’s only exit to the outside world is closed in front of students and patients |

  10. Pingback: Gaza’s only exit to the outside world is closed in front of students and patients | altahrir, news of Islam, Muslims, Arab Spring and special Palestine

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