Scores of Palestinians are leaving the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip through its southern border by paying up to $10,000 to “brokers” with alleged links to Egyptian intelligence, The Guardian reported this week.
The network of smugglers that operate around the Rafah border crossing has existed for years, but “coordination fees” have surged from $500 to thousands of dollars per person, the British newspaper said on Monday.
One Palestinian-American claimed he paid $9,000 to get his wife and children out of Gaza. On the day of travel, he was told his children’s names were not listed and he would have to pay an additional $3,000.
Everyone interviewed said they had been put in touch with Cairo-based brokers through contacts in Gaza. They said the fees are paid in cash, sometimes through middlemen based in Europe and the United States.
Jordan and Egypt have repeatedly made clear that they will not accept any Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, declaring it a “red line.”
“There will be no refugees in Jordan and no refugees in Egypt,” Jordan’s King Abdullah II said following a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in mid-October.
“That is a red line, because I think that is a plan by certain of the usual suspects to try and create de facto issues on the ground,” added Amman’s head of state.
Egyptian security sources have likewise dismissed proposals to allow Gazans fleeing the conflict to enter that country, with one saying they would not allow safe corridors so as to protect “the right of Palestinians to hold on to their cause and their land.”
Foreign nationals began exiting Gaza through Rafah into Egypt some two months ago after Qatar reportedly brokered a U.S.-backed agreement between Israel, Egypt and Hamas.
Seriously wounded Palestinian civilians have also been transported via the crossing with Sinai to receive medical treatment in Egypt.