A network of brokers and travel agencies, reportedly linked to Egyptian intelligence services, exploits the dire situation in Gaza.
These entities sell permits to exit Gaza at exorbitant prices, turning the process into a profitable business.
Rafah Terminal Business:
The Rafah terminal, the only exit from Gaza, has become a focal point for those seeking to escape the challenging conditions.
Brokers and travel agencies leverage the desperation of Gazans to secure permits for crossing into Egypt.
Investigation findings reveal significant price disparities for these permits, ranging from $4,500 to $10,000 for Palestinians and $650 to $1,200 for Egyptians.
The prices vary widely, indicating a lack of transparency and potential exploitation of the vulnerable situation.
Hala Consulting and Tourism:
Gazans frequently recommend the Egyptian travel agency, Hala Consulting and Tourism, as a service provider for securing crossing permits.
The agency, founded by Ibrahim El-Argani with ties to Egyptian intelligence, emerges as a prominent player in facilitating these transactions.
Soaring Rates Amid Conflict:
The conflict’s duration, surpassing 100 days, has intensified the desperation to leave Gaza, resulting in soaring rates for crossing permits.
Gazans report paying exorbitant sums, with some individuals even resorting to selling personal belongings or crowdfunding to raise funds.
Scams and Financial Losses:
Some individuals seeking to leave Gaza have fallen victim to scams by unscrupulous brokers, resulting in financial losses.
Reports indicate that scammers take advantage of the vulnerable situation, compounding the challenges faced by those seeking an exit.
Denial of Allegations:
Egypt denies allegations of bribery or extortion at the Rafah border crossing.
Diaa Rashwan, head of Egypt’s state Information Service, rejects the “unfounded allegations” and emphasizes that additional fees are not imposed on Palestinians at the crossing.
Coordination Process Overview:
The “coordination” process, offered by travel agencies like Hala Consulting and Tourism, enables fast-tracked passage through Rafah for a fee.
This process operates separately from Hamas-run registrations and has become the primary means of exit since the war.
Organi Group’s Influence:
Hala Consulting and Tourism is part of the Organi Group, led by Ibrahim El-Argani, a prominent Egyptian businessman with strong connections.
The group’s involvement in various sectors, including partnerships with Egypt’s state, adds to the complexity of the situation.
Absence of Official Response:
Despite the serious allegations and investigative findings, there is an absence of an official response from Egyptian authorities, raising questions about accountability and transparency.
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