Egyptian citizens married to Palestinian spouses stranded in the Gaza Strip, some of whom have children with them, have been calling on Egypt’s government to help get their loved ones out via the Rafah border crossing amid an unforgiving Israeli war on the besieged coastal enclave.
Foreign governments have been working with Egypt to ensure safe passage from Gaza for foreign nationals and Palestinians with dual citizenships through the border crossing in Egypt’s northeastern North Sinai province, Gaza’s only exit to the outside world.
Last week, Egypt’s foreign ministry declared that the Rafah border crossing had been ready to receive 7,000 foreign evacuees who belong to almost 60 countries, with no mention of Egyptians.
Only 100 Egyptian nationals have recently managed to cross into North Sinai at a time when hundreds of others from several nationalities have been given the utmost priority to leave. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, as about 40,000 Egyptian citizens and Palestinians married to Egyptians have not been allowed access to Egypt so far.
The New Arab interviewed several distressed Egyptians whose spouses and children have been trapped in Gaza, sharing their difficult ordeal. Their full names are confidential for security reasons.
Mohamed, an Egyptian married to a Gazan, said his wife had been in Gaza since 2 October to visit her mother.
“Five days later, life turned upside down when the war erupted. Even though she has acquired a permanent residency in Egypt by being married to an Egyptian national, she could not escape the living hell in Gaza,” he told TNA.
“My wife moved from the north to the southern part of Gaza in an attempt to cross into Egypt, but she was denied access, though she is 4 months pregnant and suffers from medical complications,” Mohamed continued.
“We sought all official channels since the Israeli aggression first broke out and attempted to talk to foreign ministry officials and the border authorities officials but in vain,” he added with a deep sigh.
Another Egyptian whose 9-month-pregnant Palestinian wife and Egyptian-Palestinian children are stuck in Gaza said his family had initially visited the strip for a wedding just before the fighting kicked off.
“I have been trying to bring them back as my pregnant wife is about to give birth to our fourth child amid a total absence of proper health care in Gaza,” Hussein told TNA.
“My wife can lose her life any given minute while I’m stuck in Egypt, helpless and dead, worried about her safety and my children’s who are starving and unprotected,” he remarked emotionally.
Local sources in Gaza and North Sinai told TNA that Egyptians residing in Gaza have been struggling to survive as they sought shelter across several areas in the strip, particularly along the Palestinian Rafah border city, amid an impossible humanitarian situation.
Ahmed, another Egyptian married to a Palestinian woman currently stranded in Gaza with their children, accused the Egyptian government of falling short in maintaining their safety.
“How come foreign nationals have been allowed to leave Gaza through the border with North Sinai’s Rafah city while Egyptians or their spouses haven’t been allowed to return home?” he asked.
The concerned authorities in Egypt, meanwhile, could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.