Tight Security Siege on Palestinian-Egyptian Borders
Tight Security Siege on Palestinian-Egyptian Borders
Tuesday, March 3,2009 06:56
By Amr Salamh

The cities of Rafah and El-Sheikh Zuwaid witnessed intensified security measures the last few days as security forces centered at the cities’ entrances and exits and streets leading to them, a matter which provoked the anger of the cities’ residents.

Security forces also established several portable checkpoints on the international ‘Areesh-Rafah road in addition to other pop-up checkpoints on the same road.

The cars on the road saw intensive security measures and identification interrogations as trucks were accurately searched and dealt with as smugglers, despite their carrying commodities and food supplies for the people of Rafah and Sheikh Zuwaid.

One commercial trader from Rafah told Ikhwanweb that many of the goods had run out from his store because of the security’s rigidity with the suppliers which led to the refraining of many of them from bringing any commodities to Rafah.

The trader continued requesting that security measures on cars supplying goods to Rafah and El-Sheikh Zuwaid be reduced as long as the trader has papers and receipts with the prices and amount of merchandise they are carrying.

Another supplier said he was stopped last week at a checkpoint on the ‘Areesh-Rafah road and was detained for six hours although he had the necessary receipts and was taken to El-Sheikh Zuwaid for a report to be filed against him for “smuggling” food supplies “despite the fact that I’ve been supplying goods for around 20 years.”

The supplier continued, “I will definitely not go back to North Sinai because of the security’s rigidity with commercial suppliers,” adding with sorrow, “I’d keep away from the evil and sing to it and leave the responsibility of the poor people in Rafah and Sheikh Zuwaid to the government.” 

Another trader said that his car was stopped at a checkpoint on a road leading to Rafah called Abu Tawilah, was dealt with cruelly, and accused of smuggling goods.  Although he showed them receipts proving that they weren’t smuggled, the Egyptian authorities insisted on rigidity and sent him to the Rafah police division in the company of an intelligence agent and a report was issued against him.  The next day, the prosecution ordered his release and the release of his car but kept the goods to be checked for their conformity with the descriptions in the receipts and were not released until after six days.

On the other hand, security authorities were reported to have kept some goods belonging to traders and re-sold it in a public auction to its owners, i.e. the trader bought the goods twice.  This actually happened to a trader who refused to reveal his name in fear of being exposed to the security.

Commercial suppliers also called on lifting the siege imposed on Rafah and Sheikh Zuwaid as they are cities just like any other in Egypt, experiencing what is not witnessed in any other city of Egypt.

Ikhwanweb toured the cities of Rafah and Sheikh Zuwaid and noticed a shortage in the number of goods and medicine in the two cities.  One woman affirmed that for two days she had been looking for milk for her suckling baby but could not find it in the pharmacies in the city so she was forced to travel to ‘Areesh to buy it after authorities denied access to these goods in fear of their being smuggled according to the narration of the residents.

A resident in the borders territory Hasan Mahmud added that such measures had denied residents’ access to basic goods, especially dairy products after traders started refraining from bringing goods to the two cities.

Secretary General of the Tagammu’ Party in the governorate Ashraf El-Hefny told Ikhwanweb, “Such procedures are not witnessed by in any other governorate or city in Egypt.  And if we want to prevent smuggling then we must open the crossings for our brothers in Gaza so that they may be supplied with the necessary goods, commodities, and medicine.”