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Watchtower on the border between Rafah and Egypt

Watchtower on the border between Rafah and Egypt – Marius Arnesen

Gaza, like the West Bank, is surrounded by a large military wall with access only possible via two entrances, one from Israel (Erez crossing) and the other from Egypt (Rafah crossing). It is important to note that due to the siege on Gaza imposed by Israel and in cooperation with the current regime in Egypt, getting into Gaza is, physically and bureaucratically, very difficult.

Gaza is not open to individuals wishing to travel or explore the region per say, but to those with a connection to international organisations or journalists, for example. In order to gain access to Gaza, you must have a legitimate reason to enter before you can apply for either an Israeli or Egyptian travel permit. Most travel via Egypt using the Rafah crossing.

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From Egypt

From Cairo there are buses and taxis that go directly to the Rafah crossing border, with a journey time of around 5-6 hours to reach the border. From here you must pass through security checks performed by Egyptian police enquiring about the purpose of your visit and checking your possessions and travel documents. You will then be transferred to the Palestinian side where the same process will be repeated. This process can take hours so factor in plenty of time for making this crossing. Once through border security, you will find taxis waiting to take you to your final destination in Gaza.

NB: Due to the siege on Gaza, the Rafah crossing is often closed, opening only for a few days per month, so please check the crossings’ status before you travel to avoid disappointment. Furthermore, due to this, travel times may be significantly increased.

From Israel

The Erez border crossing is an Israeli crossing point that links the Gaza strip with Israel and as such is completely controlled by the Israeli army and officials. All international visitors that wish to enter Gaza using the Erez crossing must first receive a travel permit from the Israeli authorities, an application process infamous for its large delays and bureaucratic procedures. Significantly less travel permits are awarded for travel using this crossing and therefore most find it quickest and easiest to travel via Egypt.

NB: If successfully granted Israeli permission for entry via Erez, it is advisable to carry such documents on person at all times to present to officials when prompted.