What really attracted me with the introduction to participate in this theme was the first few words, when you wrote “Not long ago we where all travellers”. These words make me think that I, being from Gaza, might not be the right person to share this kind of a dream. Because, once the quarantine is over for the whole world, we will still be here in the same situation as before. The blockade, the quarantine that has been on going for the last 13 years, will not be over and most things will remain the same for us.
Although it is really refreshing when – and if – you have the possibility to leave Gaza for some time, travelling is not a nice experience for us. The way out, or back, it’s not an easy thing; in fact, it’s like a journey to hell.
As a resident of Gaza I have only two options to travel, the first crossing is controlled by the Israel side the other one connects us to Egypt. To exit via Israel, we need certain permissions from Israeli authorities that are very difficult to acquire. You can only leave for business or heath related issues. And once I apply I will have to wait some 70 days and the application can still be declined without any explanation. If I get the permit I’m a free to go, but the permit is only for certain duration so if I miss the date I need to start everything over again, applying for a new permit.
Travelling through the Rafah crossing to Egypt involves a different kind of suffering. Normally, it should take some six hours to Cairo, but now you can expect to spend several days at the crossing with a very bad treatment from the Egyptian side.
The Rafah crossing is mainly for humanitarian use, for work or for students, and you need to make an application to the Gaza authorities. You cannot apply to travel via Rafah just because you want to have some fun, only serious things would give you a permit. And they don’t consider enjoying life as one of these options.
Also, you have to pay a lot of money, often 500 to 3000 USD to the Egyptian administration for entering or leaving. Otherwise, they will make the situation very difficult for you …
Still, people in Gaza are just like other human beings and we want to enjoy life and disconnect from the daily stress as much as you. Therefore, many are ready to put of with all this just to enjoy life during a few days, before having to return and once again endure the whole border crossing process.
Once the covid-19 lockdown is lifted I would love to go back to my favourite café by the seashore, which is now closed. That would be my #dreamjourney. Everything else would remain the same as it has been over the last 13 years.
Thank you World for listening, I’m sorry if I talked to much!
Citizen of Gaza, longing for being part of the world.