update deskIsrael at War

Hamas elite smuggled to Egypt as average Gazans stuck in Strip

Money isn't a problem for the families of senior terrorists, who pay the large bribes required to cross the border.

Gazans cross into Egypt after Hamas tore down the border wall in 2008. The man on the right is an aid worker from the Turkish group IHH, the organization responsible for the Gaza protest flotilla two years later. Credit: JCPA.
Gazans cross into Egypt after Hamas tore down the border wall in 2008. The man on the right is an aid worker from the Turkish group IHH, the organization responsible for the Gaza protest flotilla two years later. Credit: JCPA.

With Gazans earning an average monthly after-tax salary of $346, the $6,000 to $7,000 smuggling fee per head to escape across Egypt’s tightly sealed border puts such a prospect out of reach for most people living in the Strip.

But money isn’t a problem for the families of Hamas officials, who have been sending their families across Gaza’s southern border to safety, Channel 12 reported on Wednesday.

According to a list obtained by the news outlet, the fortunate few include five members of the “Mahmoud” family, who are none other than the nephews of Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip.

Two children of Hamas police spokesman Ayman Albatanji also escaped across the border.

The four children of Sameh Elsraj, a member of Hamas’s political bureau, also successfully crossed into Egypt. Elseraj, however, has not been seen since the war’s start, suggesting he may have been died in an Israeli strike.

Senior Hamas official Akil Alhindi and the daughter of the Hamas health minister also appeared on the list.

Every few days, more names of Hamas family members who managed to escape appear on the list, Channel 12 reported.

Egypt has refused to open its borders to refugees for political reasons, with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi arguing that letting them in would hurt the Palestinian cause.

Although Egypt on the whole has escaped international opprobrium for its decision, with the onus for the humanitarian situation in Gaza falling mainly on Israel, some legal observers have noted that Egypt is in violation of international law, having been a signatory to a number of refugee conventions that explicitly require it not to reject refugees at its borders who are seeking to escape war-torn areas.

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