I heard constantly during my recent visit to Gaza that the Egyptians were as complicit in the blockade as the Israelis.
This news is therefore shocking but unsurprising:
Rights groups such as Amnesty International have called on the Egyptian authorities to “urgently rein in their border security forces” after seven African asylum-seekers were killed in September trying to cross into Israel on foot, but some Israeli NGOs and soldiers say the death toll at the border is far higher.
”I strongly believe there are hundreds of unreported dead and wounded [at the border],” Sigal Rosen, public activities coordinator at the NGO Moked, a hotline for migrants, told IRIN.
“We’ve interviewed hundreds of asylum-seekers and nearly all told us that some people in their group were shot and left behind while attempting to cross the border. Furthermore, we have evidence from IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] soldiers revealing that the death toll on the Egyptian side is much higher than reported. The graveyard for asylum-seekers shot on the [Israeli side] of the border in Kibbutz Hatzor already holds 25 graves [since mid-2007]. Many of the asylum-seekers tell us that [other] bodies are left in the dessert.”
The Sons of Darfur, an NGO assisting asylum-seekers in Israel, concurred that many more were being killed than reports suggested. ”We expect Israel to pressure the Egyptians to stop shooting at asylum-seekers at the border,” said the NGO’s director, Yassin (his only name).