Activists on social media Tuesday have been circulating a document signed by the Foreign Airline Services and dated 8 July calling on employees working in passport control in Egyptian airports not to admit Palestinians arriving to Egypt — even if they have working visas.
The document is reportedly based on directions from the Passport Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority.
Egyptian authorities have closed the Rafah border crossing, the main gateway to the Palestinians of Gaza, since 5 July, after a series of reported attacks on military checkpoints in the Sinai Peninsula. The attacks followed the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi who was deposed by a military statement on 3 July following mass protests calling for his resignation.
Youssef al-Jamal, a Palestinian translator, related on his Twitter account how he had to be deported back to Malaysia from Egypt on his own expense after not being admitted into the country to go back to Gaza.
“I travelled to Egypt after obtaining a visa from the Egyptian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Some were sent back. All Palestinians who arrived yesterday were sent back to the countries they came from including Algeria, Jordan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Canada and Malaysia," he wrote on 7 July.
Barakat al-Farra, Palestinian ambassador to Egypt told Mada Masr that there have been no changes in the policy of admission of Palestinians into the country, but he emphasized that makes aged between eighteen and forty should have prior authorization from the Egyptian authorities to pass through Egypt.
“The fact that some Palestinians were barred from entering Egypt in the last few days is a temporary measure due to the crossing`s closure. It will open tomorrow,” he said.
The crossing has been opened quasi regularly since the eruption of the 2011 revolution, although several restrictions have continued to be imposed on Palestinians, curbing their mobility and ability to enter Egypt. Many Palestinians report the long waits before the Egyptian authorities would issue permits for males to cross, as well as degrading treatment by Egyptian officers at the crossing.
Prior to the 2011 revolution, the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak was perceived as a partner in the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip that dates back to the 2007 take-over by the Hamas government.
[This article originally appeared on Mada Masr.]