Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Waiting to Enter Gaza - Kris Peterson

The Israeli-controlled Erez crossing terminal, through which most foreigners
who wish to enter the Gaza Strip must pass. August 2007.

Photo: Kris Peterson
Electronic Intifada, March 25, 2009 - If there is a single act that characterizes the plight of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation, it is waiting: waiting in lines to pass through the hundreds of checkpoints scattered across the West Bank, waiting for Israel to issue an identification card, waiting for permission to travel to the next village or out of the country, waiting for loved ones languishing in Israeli prisons to be released -- waiting for peace, waiting for justice.

And for nearly two months, I found myself sharing the experience of waiting -- for Israel to allow me into Gaza....Applying for entry into Gaza through the Israeli military authorities is a Kafkaesque and constantly evolving process. One is not allowed to even approach the Erez military checkpoint on the boundary between Gaza and Israel without prior security clearance and already within a year's time, the application for such clearance had changed dramatically.

Because I had been approved without difficulty in the past, I felt confident that my application would be successful this time as well. The process should have taken no more than five working days, but assuming the situation might be unpredictable, I applied for clearance nearly one month in advance of my arrival in the region. How naive I was....

Kris Petersen is a graduate student who worked for the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in the Gaza Strip between September 2007-January 2008.

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