Gaza in Crisis: Dispatches from CRS Field Staff

As thousands of Palestinians stream from Gaza into Egypt following cutoffs in fuel and supplies, CRS staffers in the troubled region have contacted us with their stories of life during the blockade. One CRS project officer lives in Rafah, about six hundred feet away from the border with Egypt. She writes: “Today [Jan. 23] at about 2:00 am, we woke up to the sound of successive explosions. All night we couldn’t sleep, and were scared and worried. We were thinking, ‘This may be an Israeli incursion to our region.’ In the morning we discovered the cause of the explosions: armed groups destroying the border between Egypt and Palestine.” Amid the general elation about the freedom of movement, she says, is a haunting feeling that there will be repercussions for breaking down the wall.

On Tuesday morning, the CRS receptionist in Gaza described her family’s struggles during the electrical cutoff and blockade on heating fuel: “Last night, my sister was preparing for today’s exam at her college. It was very hard for her to concentrate on her study due to the severe cold and the weak light of the gas lamp, which ran out after few hours. My father, my brothers and some neighbors were sitting in groups listening to the news.”

Egypt is allowing Gazans to cross the border and buy food and supplies; many of these Palestinians are returning to their homes in Gaza, but some say they won’t. As Middle Eastern, U.S. and UN leaders decide what to do next, CRS is closely monitoring the situation and preparing its staff in Jerusalem and Gaza to deal with the impact of these difficult days in Gaza.

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