Egyptian riot police used water cannons and clubs to suppress a surging crowd of demonstrators. Women shouted “God is great!” while rushing the gate into Egyptian territory. A number of women lost consciousness in the ensuing violence.
The security forces arrested the women, using dogs to break up the crowd.
Demonstrations began at the Rafah crossing point on Monday, with protesters calling for the border to be opened to allow Palestinian patients into Egypt for medical treatment.
After months of tightening sanctions, Israel imposed a total lockdown on the Gaza Strip on Friday, blocking shipments of food, medicine, and fuel oil. Running on emergency generators, Gaza’s hospitals were treating only the most serious cases.
Crowds of women gathered at Rafah crossing on Tuesday morning in a demonstration organized by Change and Reform, the Hamas bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).
PLC member Huda Na’im said the demonstrators have no intention of backing down: “We won’t surrender until they lift the blockade.”
Hamas said that Gaza’s problems will not solved be by shipments of fuel alone, but that a complete end to the embargo that has beseiged one and a half million people in the coastal strip was necessary.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that the demonstrations and sit-ins will not stop until the blockade is lifted.