What is the Rafah crossing, Gazans’ last hope to escape the war, and how does it work?


Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have descended on the south of the Gaza Strip as a potential Israeli ground operation looms.

But where they will go from there is anyone’s guess. The coastal enclave is blockaded by land, air and sea by Israel, which has declared war on its Hamas rulers for a brazen attack on October 7 that killed 1,400 people. Israel has also shut off the supply of water, electricity, food and fuel, leaving the impoverished territory’s 2 million residents helpless.

A border crossing with Egypt in the south has been touted as the last hope for Gazans to escape as Israel’s bombs rain down, and many Palestinians have begun moving in its direction in anticipation.

  • What is the situation at Rafah now?
  • Why is the crossing so important right now?
  • How has Rafah crossing access changed over time?
  • What is it usually like to cross the Rafah border?
  • Why is Egypt reluctant to open the crossing for Gazans?

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