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Call from Gaza: open the Rafah crossing permanently and unconditionally

Today, a call demanding the re-opening of the Rafah Crossing between Egypt and Palestine has come from Gaza. It is propelled by support from Egypt and has been endorsed by dozens of organizations, citizens’ groups, associations and coalitions in many countries, as well as by distinguished international personalities.

The call to action underscores the Geneva Conventions which entitle all people to freedom of movement and protection from collective punishment such as the arbitrary closure of the Crossing. Fulfilling a demand of the Egyptian revolution, supporters urge their governments to re-open the gates that have turned Gaza into an ‘open air prison’.

The Rafah Crossing is Gaza’s only exit to the external world. Israel’s continued siege of Gaza includes closure of its six other crossings

Building on the momentum of a year’s international activism to break the deadly siege of Gaza, supporters of the call to action include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Laureate; Richard Falk, Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University; Ronnie Kasrils, former South African Chief of Intelligence and Justice Minister; Egyptian novelists and activists Ahdaf Soueif and Radwa Ashour; author Tariq Ali and others.

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Signatories will be updated on further actions in support of this campaign as they are announced.

Call From Gaza: Open The Rafah Crossing Permanently And Unconditionally

Besieged Gaza, Occupied Palestine

Article 13 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly states that:

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
  2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

This article follows others that unequivocally recognizethe inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of ALL members of the human family, which naturally includes Palestinians.The inalienable right to freedom of movement of the more than 1.5 million Palestinian men, women and children who make up the population of the Gaza Strip has been denied by successive Israeli governments and the Mubarak regime which imposed a barbaric siege. Mainstream human rights organizations describe the Gaza Strip as the “largest open-air prison on earth.”

This deadly siege should have ended when the revolutionary Egyptian movement ousted Hosni Mubarak and his murderous regime during which Egyptians in their millions made clear that their emancipation and the freedom of Palestine were their joint and connected goals.

This raised the hopes of Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, 1948 Palestine and the shatat (diaspora), as well as millions of others around the world, that the Egyptian government and the Supreme Military Council would finally break the blockade ofGaza, as Egyptians clearly wanted. We expected the Rafah Crossing to be treated as a sovereign border between two states, as open as all other Egyptian border crossings, including those with Libya, Sudan and Israel. This would ensure the dignity and free movement of Palestinians, and all travelers, to and from the Gaza Strip.

Former Egyptian Foreign Minister, Dr. Nabil Al-Arabi, made very encouraging initial statements that the previous Egyptian government’s treatment of Gaza was “disgraceful” and that the Rafah Crossing would be opened permanently. On 25 May 2011, Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency announced the permanent opening of Rafah.The former rules at the Crossing were to be reinstated, thus allowing Palestinians with passports to cross into Egypt every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for Fridays and holidays. According to a statement issued by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Palestinian women and children would be able to leave Gaza without restrictions, while men between the ages of 18 and 40 would have to obtain visas to enter Egypt. Thus more than 60 per cent of Gazans would be able to cross without requiring visas.

This decision of the government post-revolution was implemented for just two days: 28-29 May 2011, and this Rafah Crossing policy was in reality retracted without any formal announcement. The current number allowed to pass each day has been reduced to an arbitrary figure of between 160-300 travelers.

The sudden about-turn comes in the midst of the worst medical crisis that Gaza has ever suffered. Most operations have been put on hold as needed basic supplies are not available. Thousands of students have lost the opportunity to further their studies abroad because they have not been able to travel to their universities. Residency permits for Arab and foreign countries of thousands of other Gazans expired when they couldn’t leave Gaza.

The current system requires every potential traveler to register online with the Gaza Ministry of Interior and confirm this registration with the Ministry of Transport. The number registered to cross as of the end of June exceeds 20,000, and with the daily rate of travelers at the Crossing restricted to a maximum of 300, the possibility of crossing before mid-September is almost nil.

Those who travel via Rafah face inhumane conditions: standing for long hours in the heat, then escorted by police to Cairo airport, and then waiting in a holding cell until departure. No other citizens in the world have to endure this humiliation, uncertainty and indignity by another country when they choose to exercise their right to leave their own country.

Palestinians demand freedom of movement now

These restrictions should no longer be imposed on Palestinian people. It is an offense to the immense ongoing struggles of the Egyptian people in pursuit of human rights for the present Egyptian authorities to so quickly break promises made to them.

Under the Geneva Conventions we are all entitled to freedom of movement and protection from collective punishment such as the arbitrary closure of the Crossing.

Our demand, therefore, is the permanent and free movement of Palestinians, without distinction or limitation of any kind, through the Rafah Crossing.

  • Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)
  • University Teachers’ Association in Palestine (UTAP)
  • Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
  • General Union of Youth Entities (GUYE)
  • Palestinian Youth Against Israeli Apartheid (PYAIA)
  • Arab Cultural Forum
  • One Democratic State Group (ODSG)
  • Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, Palestine
  • Campaign for the Right to Enter the Occupied Palestinian Territory
  • Karama Campaign for the Free Movement of Palestinians
  • Palestine Justice Network
  • Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People (Beit Sahour)
  • Al-Rowwad Center (Aida Refugee Camp)
  • Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution, Egypt
  • People’s Socialist Alliance Party (PSAP), Egypt
  • Democratic Workers Party, Egypt
  • Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
  • The Free Egyptian Movement
  • National Front for Justice and Democracy, Egypt
  • Popular Democratic Movement for Change, Egypt [HASHD]
  • ElNadim Centre for the psychological rehabilitation of victims of violence and torture, Egypt
  • Hisham Mubarak Law Center, Egypt
  • Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
  • Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, Egypt

We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with this demand for basic human rights of the people of Gaza and Egypt:
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  • Tariq Ali, author and activist, UK
  • Radwa Ashour, author, Egypt
  • Mona Baker, St. Jerome Publishing, UK
  • Oren Ben-Dor, School of Law, Southampton, UK
  • Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies, US
  • Haim Bresheeth, University of East London, UK
  • Martin Caton, Member of Parliament, UK
  • Richard Falk, Professor of International Law, Princeton University, USA
  • James C. Faris
  • Bill Fletcher, Jr.,BlackCommentator.comeditorial board, USA
  • Keith Hammond, University of Glasgow, Scotland
  • Nelly Hanna,American University in Cairo, Egypt
  • Richard Hudson, FBA, London, UK
  • Colin Imber
  • Najaty Jabary, Medico, Spain
  • Fanny and Sonja Karkar, Australia
  • Ronnie Kasrils, former South African government minister, author and activist
  • Muhammad Ali Khalidi, York University, Toronto
  • Erwin Lanc, Federal Minister of the Republic of Austria,
  • Yosefa Loshitzky, London, UK
  • Ian Macdonald, QC, UK
  • Mike Marqusee, author, UK
  • Nur Masalha, St. Mary’s University College and SOAS, University of London, UK
  • Hajo Meyer, Holland
  • Christl Meyer, Women In Black, Vienna, Austria
  • Gail Miller, Women of A Certain Age, U.S. Ship To Gaza
  • Fanny-Michaela Reisin, International League of Human Rights-FIDH, AEDH;
  • German Section (President), Jewish Voice for a Just Peace (EJJP Germany)
  • Dalia Said Mostafa, University of Manchester, UK
  • Mai Perez Apraiz, Empresaria, Spain
  • Steven Rose, Open University, UK
  • Ibrahim Jabary Salamanca, Empresario, Spain
  • Pilar Salamanca, Escritora, Spain Waltraud Schauer, Austria
  • Suleiman Sharkh, University of Southampton, UK
  • Lidon Soriano, Spain
  • Ahdaf Soueif, author, Egypt
  • Baroness Jenny Tonge, UK
  • Waltraud Torossian
  • Desmund Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Peter & Joan Unterweger
  • Angela Waldegg, Austria


  • Al-Awda, Palestine Right to Return Coalition
  • Al-Awda New York: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
  • Americans Against the War, France
  • American Muslims for Palestine
  • Arab Resource and Organizing Center, USA
  • Artdialog, Italy
  • Artists Against Apartheid, South Africa
  • Association Des Universitaires Pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine, France
  • Australians for Palestine
  • Bay Area Coalition to End Israeli Apartheid, USA
  • Bethlehem Group, Glasgow, Scotland
  • Black Alliance for Just Immigration
  • BRICUP- British Committee for the Universities of Palestine
  • British Writers in Support of Palestine (BWISP)
  • Canadian Boat to Gaza Campaign
  • Caribbean Labour Solidarity, UK
  • Catalyst Project, USA
  • Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), USA
  • Center for Encounter And Active Non-Violence, Austria
  • Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA)
  • Collectif Judéo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Paix- Strasbourg, France
  • Comitato Varesino per la Palestina, Italy
  • Comite De Solidariedade Com A Palestina, Portugal
  • Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)
  • Davis Committee for Palestinian Rights, USA
  • En Nuestro Nombre No- Tucumán, Argentina
  • Farrah France-Strasbourg, France
  • Frantz Fanon Foundation, France
  • Frauen in Schwarz (Wien) – Women in Black, Vienna, Austria
  • Free Palestine Movement
  • Friends of Deir Ibzi’a, USA
  • Gaza Foundation-Rotterdam, Holland
  • Global Compliance Research Project
  • Global Exchange, USA
  • Global Women’s Strike, (GWS)
  • Goldsmiths College (University of London) Students’ Union, UK
  • Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, USA
  • Hadeel Palestinian Fair Trade, Scotland
  • Handicap Solidarité- Strasbourg, France
  • Headlines Theatre, Canada
  • International Forum for Secular Bangladesh, UK
  • International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, France
  • International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, UK
  • International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), USA
  • Independent Jewish Voices, Canada
  • International Payday Men’s Network
  • International Solidarity Movement
  • International Solidarity Movement – Northern California, USA
  • International Solidarity Movement – Chicago, USA
  • Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC)
  • Israel Divestment Campaign (California), USA
  • Italian Peace Research Institute – Net for Civil Peace Corps, Italy
  • Kritische Jüdische Stimme (Österreich) – Critical Jewish Voice (Austria)
  • Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG), UK
  • Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost, EJJP (Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East) , Germany
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, USA
  • Jews Say No! USA
  • Justice for Palestinians, USA
  • LA BDS for Justice in Palestine
  • Labor for Palestine, USA
  • Leeds Palestine Solidarity Campaign, UK
  • Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, USA
  • Merseyside Jews for Peace and Justice, UK
  • Middle East Children’s Alliance
  • Middle East Crisis Committee Of Connecticut, USA
  • New York City Labor against the War, USA
  • Netherlands Palestine Committee (NPK)
  • NION – Not in our name – Jews opposing Zionism
  • Our Developing World, CA, USA
  • Palcrafts Charity, Scotland
  • Palestine Action Group, Corvallis, Oregon, USA
  • Palestine Solidarity Campaign, UK
  • Palestine Solidarity Committee, South Africa
  • Palestine Solidarity Alliance, South Africa
  • Palestine Solidarity Committee (PKR)-Rotterdam, Holland
  • Peace for Life, Johannesburg
  • Red Internacional Judía Antisionista (IJAN), Argentina
  • Red Thread, Guyana
  • RESCOP, the Spanish network of organizations in solidarity with Palestine:
    • Asociacion Al Quds (Malaga)
    • Asociacion Hispano Palestina Jerusalen (Madrid)
    • Asociacion Paz Ahora
    • Asociacion Paz con Dignidad
    • Castello per Palestina
    • Coordinadora de apoyo a Palestina Rioja (La rioja)
    • CSCA (Comite de Solidaridad con la Causa Arabe)
    • Ecologistas en Accion (Madrid, Valladolid)
    • Grupo de ONG por Palestina (Plataforma 2015 y Mas y Federacion de Asociaciones deDefensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos- Espana) + ACSUR
    • ISM Cataluna/Valencia
    • Interpueblos (Cantabria)
    • Izquierda Anticapitalista
    • Komite Internazionalistak (Euskadi)
    • MEWANDO (Euskadi)
    • Mujeres en zona de conflicto (MZC)
    • Mujeres por la Paz- Accion solidaria con Palestina (Canarias)
    • Palestinarik Elkartasuna (Euskadi)
    • Plataforma Palestina (Ibiza)
    • Plataforma Solidarida con Palestina (Sevilla)
    • Red de Jovenes Palestinos
    • Red de Judios Antisionistas (IJAN)
    • Sodepau
    • Sodepaz
    • Sodepaz Balamil- Valladolid
    • Talua Per Palestina (Baleares)
    • Xarxa d’enllaC amb Palestina (Barcelona)
    • Xarxa Solidarida Palestina (Valencia)
  • Right to Return, (DAR), France
  • Sabeel-DC, USA
  • Sacramento Regional Coalition for Palestinian Rights, USA
  • Scottish Friends of Palestine
  • Scottish Palestine Solidarity Committee (Edinburgh)
  • Siege Busters Working Group
  • Silicon Valley De-Bug, USA
  • SOAS Palestine Society, UK
  • Stop Agrexco Roma
  • Stop the Jewish National Fund Campaign, UK
  • South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU)
  • Trade Union Friends of Palestine (ICTU), Ireland
  • Un ponte per, Italy
  • US Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel
  • US Citizens for Peace & Justice
  • US Palestinian Community Network
  • Vic to Gaza first Convoy, Italy
  • War Times/Tiempo de Guerras, USA
  • Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace, USA
  • WESPAC Foundation, NY, USA
  • Women in Black- Strasbourg, France
  • Women of Color in GWS
  • Women for Justice and Peace, UK
  • Women for Palestine, Australia
  • 14 Friends of Palestine, Marin, California, USA