Zainab in Gaza

In summer 2010, Zainab, a sophomore majoring in biochemistry in Dedman College, is traveling to Gaza in the Palestinian Territories to volunteer at medical facilities.

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In Gaza, at last

Due to the closing of the Rafah Border Crossing between Egypt and Gaza, I was forced to delay my flight for about a month. This delay had a domino effect on my plans.

To begin, my flight to Egypt should have taken two days, but instead took five. My original ticket had been booked with connecting flights from Dallas to London and from London to Egypt. Since I delayed my trip in the height of vacation fever, I was no longer able to find connecting flights and was forced to stay four days in London.

Except that was not the end of it. In order to get to Gaza, one needs to drive about 5 hours from Cairo to Rafah, Egypt. Once at Rafah, it takes about 3 hours to go through all the immigration procedures. Mind you, if I was in Dallas a 3-hour flight would get me to Montreal, Canada, or a 3-hour drive would get me to Austin.

With that said, the Rafah Border Crossing was not going to open until Thursday, June 17. Since I arrived in Egypt on June 12, my plans were again delayed, and my two sisters and I spent about a week in Egypt.

Despite my delay in plans, Thursday, June 17, eventually rolled along, and most of my anxiety had been released. At 4 am my two sisters and I loaded our belongings into a taxi and began our journey across Egypt.

I soon learned our five-hour drive across the desert of Egypt was going to be in a taxi without air-conditioning! The only solution to keeping my mind off the blazing rays of sunlight crashing through the car windows was to try to sleep through the drive. Unfortunately, I was so excited to finally reach Gaza that sleep was improbable.

Gaza1.png Finally at 9:45 am, we reached the Egyptian side of the Rafah Border Crossing. The immigration process with the Egyptians took until 12:15 pm, which was when my two sisters and I boarded a bus to cross the border that was no more than half the length of a football field. This bus ride, that should have taken no more than 5 minutes, took 45 minutes.

Gaza2.png All in all, at about 2 pm, we were done with both sides of immigration, and I officially arrived in Gaza. I never would have imagined that in the 21st century it would take 12 days to get to a desired destination. I must say this was the beginning of my understanding of the suffering of the civilians living in Gaza.

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