Rafah drowning in tears as Palestinians bid farewell to loved ones for survival

A Palestinian mourns her relatives who were killed in Israeli airstrikes at a hospital morgue in Gaza City. [Xinhua]

It should be a happy day. Ghazal Bseiso was finally able to leave Gaza, the war-torn enclave. Yet the departure only tortures the mother of four, who can leave with only two of her children.

At the Rafah border crossing that separates Gaza and Egypt, Bseiso couldn't help but burst into tears as she let go of the hand of her daughter, who had to stay behind.

"I paid everything ... to be able to flee the war," Bseiso told Xinhua while trying to control her tears. "I don't know why they prevented me from taking all my children. We are subjected to injustice all the time."

"How will my two young children live without me, and how will I bear being away from them? What sin have we committed to be displaced in this tragic way?" exclaimed the mother.

The 35-year-old mother moved to Gaza from Egypt after she married a Palestinian man ten years ago. She told Xinhua that her life had been happy until everything was shattered after the conflict broke out in Gaza in October last year.

Since then, Bseiso had been applying through her family in Egypt for a permit to leave the Strip. After a prolonged wait, the permit finally came, albeit an incomplete and heart-breaking one.

Hadir Abu Shamala underwent a similar tragedy. An Israeli bombing injured her mother, and took the lives of the rest of their family.

In a heart-wrenching moment at the Rafah crossing, the 12-year-old girl pleaded and cried out, desperately seeking permission to accompany her mother on her journey for medical treatment.

However, according to Palestinian officials at the crossing, the child was not allowed to travel because her name was not on the passenger list.

People mourn a victim at a hospital in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, on Dec 26, 2023. [Xinhua]

Abu Shamala had no choice but to return to live with her uncle's family in a makeshift tent located in Mawasi Rafah, in the southern region of the Strip.

"I don't want to stay here. I want to be with my mother in Egypt. I miss my mother very much," she said before tears welled up in her eyes.

Every day, the sad parting scenes reoccur at the Rafah crossing as numerous Palestinians depart the Strip, fleeing the looming threat of death that has persisted in the region for the past six months.

The Rafah crossing is what separates life and death for the people in Gaza, said Mohammed Al-Shaer, a Palestinian from Gaza City.

"I do not support what Hamas did on October 7 (2023), but why must we always pay the price of political crises? We want to live, we want to survive, and we want to travel," grumbled the 25-year-old young man.

Israel launched a large-scale offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip to retaliate against a Hamas rampage through the southern Israeli border on Oct. 7, 2023, during which about 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 were taken hostage.

According to the Hamas-run Health Ministry, the Israeli army has killed 32,975 and injured 75,577 Palestinians as of Wednesday in its military operations in the enclave.