Palestinian will prevails as Gaza pilgrims head home through Rafah gate
Palestinian will prevails as Gaza pilgrims head home through Rafah gate
Thursday, January 3,2008 00:59

After five days they had spent in harsh conditions at the Egyptian side of the borders between Gaza Strip and Egypt, thousands of Palestinian pilgrims crossed the Rafah terminal back home, declaring victory of the Palestinian determination and will.

"Thanks to Allah, the will of steadfastness and determination prevailed as we returned to Gaza from the same crossing point which we had traveled through", said MP Khamis Al-Najjar who was among the stranded pilgrims.

Around 25 buses loaded with Palestinian pilgrims crossed the border point smoothly and easily without inspection of luggage as the pilgrims had gone through enough for the past week and PA immigration officers at the terminal only checked their identities before allowing the buses and the joyful pilgrims to proceed.

Hundreds of the pilgrims" relatives, a number of PLC members, and ministers from the legitimate PA government of Premier Ismael Haneyya among other PA officials were waiting for the pilgrims at the gate while tens of PA policemen were deployed to secure the place and to ensure safety of the returning pilgrims.

Despite the crushing pressures practiced on them, the pilgrims categorically refused to use Israeli-controlled crossing point and insisted they will enter into the Gaza Strip only through the Rafah terminal, and they succeeded in doing so.

Three Palestinian female pilgrims had passed away while being stranded on the Egyptian side, one of them died at a ferry waiting to be allowed into Nweibe" port.

The stranded pilgrims declared a hunger strike, rejected meals and threatened rowdy demonstrations if the were not allowed home through the Rafah terminal adding to the pressures on the Egyptian authorities.

Relatives of the stranded pilgrims staged a sit-in at the Palestinian side of the Rafah terminal vowing not to leave the place without the pilgrims.

"Today is a big victory to the Palestinian people as the pilgrims remained united and succeeded in foiling all the attempts used to divide them, and they insisted to go home through the Rafah terminal", said pilgrim Mustafa Al-Sawwaf, the chief-editor of the daily Palestine newspaper.

"We thank the Almighty Allah for returning home, and we also thank Hamas [for what she had done for us in this regard], may Allah bless you all", said joyful pilgrim Um Ahmad Al-Sumairi.

"The joy of returning home wipes out all the suffering we had experienced", said another female pilgrim.

"You have no problem with us, but it is your president [Mahmoud] Abbas who wanted such tragedy for you", the woman quoted the governor of Sinai as asserting after he visited and talked to them in their temporary camp.

Arabs can break the siege:
For his part, secretary-general of the Fatah Al-Yasser faction Khaled Abu Hilal, who was also among the stranded pilgrims, affirmed that the return of the pilgrims through the Rafah terminal proves that Arabs can break the unjust siege imposed by Israel and the USA on the tiny Strip if they really want to do so.

"Our suffering was painful, however, all the pain was relieved at the moment we stepped into our country through the terminal which we insisted to pass through", Abu Hilal said.

He also called on Egypt to exploit the chance and to practice its authority on the terminal, which is 100% Palestinian-Egyptian crossing point, and not to be blackmailed by the Israelis and the Americans.

But he deprecated what he described as the "vicious" attempts by Abbas and his retinue to block the return of the pilgrims through the Rafah terminal.

According to Abu Hilal, the return of the pilgrims through the Rafah terminal is considered "big victory" for the legitimate PA government of Haneyya.

Officials of Hamas Movement and the PA legitimate government of Haneyya exerted tremendous efforts in ending the ordeal of the pilgrims as they contacted many concerned parties, including Saudi and Egyptian officials. The efforts of Hamas Movement succeeded.