Since part of the frontier wall between the Gaza strip and Egypt was broken down on 23 January, thousands of Palestinians have poured into Egypt. Cut off from the world by a blockade enforced by Israel, the country is running out of basic commodities and has taken Egyptian trade by storm. Our Observer Wael Abbas went to the frontier; here is his account of events and a video he filmed on the scene.

Photos

Mohammed writes the blog 'Rafah Today'. He took these photos on 23 January in the Gaza Strip. See his blog.

Petrol station owners with no fuel to sell.

 

Osama Al Baba, 11, drawing during the electrcity blackout in Gaza.

 

Children during shortages of electrcity in Rafah.

Photos posted on 24 January 2008.

Commentary and video from our Observer in Egypt

Our Observer Wael Abbas went to the border between Egypt and the Gaza strip. Here is his account of the events and a video he filmed at the scene.

Video posted 25 January 2008

I went to the see what was going on. There were Palestinian men, women, elderly people and children coming over on the back of donkeys, scooters, whatever; it was a real mess. In the night only men dare come through. They are only allowed to go to Rafah and as far as Al-Arish port within Egypt, which is about 50km from Gaza. The police prohibit going any further. In any case almost nobody stays there for more than a day. Most people come over to buy essentials and cigarettes and go straight back afterwards. The opening of the border is real breath of fresh air for them. And even if the prices in Egypt have soared with the influx of Palestinians, tradesmen are making a good bargain. Prices are still lower than they are in Gaza.

In the end, I think this crisis will ease pressure for all the players involved. This means Israel, which is not exactly gaining popularity as the blockade goes on, and the Palestinian leaders, who can't provide for their people's needs. The people of Gaza have managed to keep themselves alive, and loosen the suffocating situation caused by the blockade."