Egypt may be open, Palestine is still closed

By Mohammad Rujailah
Mohammad RujailahThe Rafah border between Egypt and the Gaza strip will be opened in the next couple of days. People of the Gaza strip will be able to leave Gaza and enjoy the freedom of movement. Or will they..? Not quite. Filmmaker Mohammad Rujailah comments.

Soon, I’ll be able to cross the borders of my country, but I want the right to move INSIDE my country. We should not be that excited about going OUT, when we are prevented from going IN.

When Egyptians said that they are opening THEIR borders we were happy, we deserve it, thank you Egypt so much for that, we know that Egypt is an independent country, they can do what they want! But they shushed Israel and ask them not to interfere. Why? This is an internal Egyptian decision that Israel has no say in. Besides, Egypt already allowed Jordanians, Lebanese, Japanese, Chinese, Americans, and even Israelis in. Their decision.

Gazans are hooked on Egypt. In school I had to study the Egyptian curriculum. I learned about Egyptian economy, politics, history, characters, food… Everything until I was completely fed up with it! We are next to each other; Gaza is closer to Egypt than it is to the West Bank and Jerusalem, the other parts of our country.

The second Intifada, that started ten years ago and still affects our lives, has changed the way we see things. For the last ten years our lives and heads were thinking one thing: how to leave Gaza. Key words that defined our lives were: OPEN, CLOSE, TERMINAL, DENIED ACCESS, PERMIT and CHECK POINT.  Some of us succeeded and left for education, medical treatment, or to see our families abroad. One of them is me.

We have a more visual memory of Cairo or Spain than of the West Bank! I am fed up with everyone wanting to leave – myself included. Living in Europe made me realise how easy it is to move around – outside.  I feel ashamed of thinking all the time of visiting museums here in Spain, when these places don’t represent anything for me, at least not right now! We should not be that excited about going OUT, when we are prevented from going IN.

Opening the borders with Egypt is great but I want to move inside my country! I want to study at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah, or Al-Najah University in Nablus. I’ve never even been to Nablus! I want to take a sun bath at the Dead Sea, I want to be medically treated in Abu Dis, I want to buy the famous pastry Knafeh Nabulsyeh from Nablus and eat Musakhan there, and I want to come home to Gaza with my friends from Ramallah and Bethlehem or Bi’lin and enjoy a good fish meal on Gaza beach.

How come a Dutch, French or Japanese can visit the West Bank and we can not? How come someone, from outside has got more right than me to be in my country, when all I’m allowed to do is leave. Basically we’ve become refugees yet again.

For everyone think that opening Rafah might help I say, it won’t! It is a pain killer. Gaza belongs to The West Bank and both are supposed to be extensions of Jerusalem, and form a free Palestine! We are still occupied, Palestine is still closed, and Gaza is still a restricted area.

( / 04.06.2011)

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