Mohammed Abed Agence France-Presse In total, there are 3,480 people authorized to leave the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing, under the authority of Egypt. These lists compile people who received authorization from Egyptian and Israeli authorities between November 1 and 8. Among them, there are at least 120 people linked to Canada.
Between November 1 and 8, around 3,500 people were granted permission to leave the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing – under Egyptian authority – before it closed at the end of the day. Among them, 75 Canadians were able to leave, including a family of Canadian nationals who are struggling to reach the country, even if they were able to reach Cairo. Le Devoir spoke to one of their relatives.
Fady Abdallah met Mohammedsharif Alghusain, a Canadian of Palestinian origin, during their studies in the 2000s at Concordia University. “He was really my best friend when we were at university,” recalls Fady on the phone, reached in Montreal.
Being the eldest of his siblings, Mohammedsharif decided to return to Gaza a few years ago to support his parents and two sisters. There, he met his wife, Dina, and the couple had two daughters, now ages 7 and 5. Both children received their Canadian citizenship; Dina only has Palestinian nationality.
Since the start of the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, “Mohammed has lost his home,” says Fady, who has been in constant contact with his friend since Tuesday. “He and his family narrowly escaped death. They had to evacuate within minutes, and were not even able to take their papers with them. They only took their passports and left. »
Mr. Alghusain's parents and sisters also saw their homes destroyed by Israeli strikes. One of his daughters, suffering from diabetes, has been lacking insulin for weeks.
“I feel helpless”
This is to come helps his friend that Fady started a fundraiser on GoFundMe to help rebuild their lives in Gaza. But with the continuing escalation of violence, this hope of reconstruction is dwindling more and more. From now on, this money will be used to repatriate the little family to Canada.
On Tuesday, Mohammedsherif, his wife and two children were able to leave the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing, all four appearing on the list of Canadians authorized to leave. Now arrived in Cairo but without money, they only have a few days to leave Egypt, explains to Devoir Fady, who is making phone calls to help them. “The [Canadian] government doesn’t pay for plane tickets. […] I can’t help them financially alone,” he says. “I feel helpless right now. »
Leaving, a privilege reserved only for some
In total, there are 3,480 people authorized to leave the Gaza Strip on the lists distributed by the Palestinian Authority at the Rafah crossing. These lists compile people who received permission from Egyptian and Israeli authorities between November 1 and 8. Among them, there are at least 120 people linked to Canada.
Of the 3,052 people with a nationality attached to their name, approximately 56.4% are designated as foreign nationals. Of the remaining people, 19.7% have dual citizenship (Palestinian and other), and 23.9% have Palestinian nationality only.
Those who manage to leave are among the youngest. People listed who have a date of birth associated with their name have an average age of 28, according to our analysis. Around 39.4% of them are young people under the age of 18.
Only dual nationals, foreign nationals and a handful of Palestinians are authorized to leave the territory from Gaza. These Palestinians are often accompanied by family members who hold foreign citizenship, as is the case with Dina, Mr. Alghusain’s wife. Others were among the seriously injured sent to Egypt for special care.
Even before Tuesday, a Gazans could only leave Gaza “when they obtained authorization to leave the territory, either through the Egyptian border [at Rafah] or through the Israeli borders,” explains Rex J. Brynen, professor in the science department. policies of McGill University. These authorizations are also difficult to obtain, and Israel still has a right of veto over authorizations granted by its Egyptian neighbor.
“This is part of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s strategy, to use these kinds of sanctions and rewards in order to influence the behavior of Hamas,” explains the professor, a Middle East specialist. For Israel, sanctioning Hamas when it acts against its interests and rewarding the Gazan civilian population when Hamas is quieter, “is a way of bribing Hamas. The number of Gazans who could leave the territory was the reward that Israel held out to Hamas to convince it to act as it wished. »
Canada, invisible actor on the international scene
Right now, Egyptian, Israeli and Palestinian authorities affiliated with Hamas have a say in who gets out of the Gaza Strip. A trio of influence which is reflected in the choice of nationals authorized to leave, according to Rex Brynen, even if he nuances that it is difficult to know exactly what motivates the decisions of the three players.
Why so much delay in the departure of the Canadians? There are many hypotheses, but one of them is simple, according to him: “We are not very important on the international scene. We are neither the United States nor a member of the European Union. We are not part of a big club of important countries. »
Another plausible reason is the Canadian government's stance on the current war, which could have “discouraged” Palestinian or Egyptian authorities from removing Canadians. “Egypt [and Hamas] have used dual nationals as a lever to encourage the international community to do more in terms of humanitarian aid” among other things, he explains. “Egyptian authorities are in no hurry to help people from countries that are doing little to help Gazans. »
Humanitarian aid, which has also been able to enter through the Rafah border post in a slightly more sustained manner for several days, remains largely insufficient to meet the crying needs for food and drinking water. and in care of Palestinians bruised by the Israeli offensive. And while dual nationals and foreign nationals wait to leave the territory, “Egypt argues that there remain more than 2 million people who cannot flee. We should pay more attention to their situation, and avoid only worrying about those who can leave,” emphasizes Rex Brynen.