Leaving Gaza – A How-to Guide
Harry Fear / Gaza
This guide is for internationals wishing to leaving the Gaza Strip, and follows my how-to-guide on how to enter.
I had an incredible time in Gaza. I was surrounded by wonderful and hospitable, open-hearted people. The place itself is beautiful. I will deeply miss the sea, the air, the food and the people. I will miss the spirit, the energy, the love.
If you are crazy enough to leave this wonderful place, here’s how to do so.
For Palestinians, leaving Gaza is extremely difficult; Palestinians must get written permission from the relevant Palestinian Ministry to use the Rafah Border Crossing with Egypt. For internationals, it’s a less difficult matter, as we don’t need any written permission to leave.
Let me give you one warning: you will regret leaving.
Leaving Gaza for Cairo
- 7 days before you leave make a visit to the Internal Protection unit (IP) in Mina, Gaza City. It’s near the Deira Restaurant. This police unit provides security and co-ordination for internationals in Gaza. Identify yourself and tell them that you absolutely need to use the Rafah crossing to leave the Strip. Give some of your details and be friendly so that they remember you at a later date. Make sure to get the contact details of one of the fluent English-speaking officers who works at the border crossing.
- Make sure you have at least 100 Israeli Shekels and 270 Egyptian Guineas. You can withdraw money from cash machines and economically exchange currencies in one of the many Bureaus in the al-Jundi/Remal area of Gaza City.
- On the day you leave, call a taxi to your accommodation at 10am, telling them that your destination is the Rafah crossing. Phone your contact at the Internal Protection unit (‘your contact’) and tell them that you are on your way to the border.
- When you get to the gates of the crossing, explain to your driver that you want to be dropped off inside the compound. Call your contact, telling him that you want your taxi to be let in. After a wait of up to 40 minutes, he will phone you back, telling you that your taxi can enter. You may need to flash your passport as you pass through the gates.
- When you get to the compound buildings, your contact should be awaiting you. Your luggage will stay in the taxi and will be processed independently. Follow your contact into the terminal with your hand luggage. Take a seat as your passport is processed for up to 90 minutes.
- You will eventually be told to proceed; you need to purchase an exit ticket from the ‘Post Office’ for 60 Israeli Shekels (£10). Now identify the officer with the paperwork (a list of names), standing closest to the exit doors. Give him your name and tell him you want to take the next coach; make clear that you will sit and wait for the coach to arrive.
- You will have to wait for up to an hour before your name is called out and you can board the coach. Your luggage will lie beside the coach. Tell the driver that you want to buy one ticket for 10 Israeli Shekels (£2) and that your luggage needs to be loaded onto the coach. After you board, you will have to wait for between 20-100 minutes before you exit through to the Egyptian side.
- Once you arrive on the Egyptian side, disembark the coach. Decline all offers for assistance with ‘no, thank you’ (la, shu-kran). Take your own luggage into the terminal building. Once inside, pass through the security area, put down your luggage, and go to the Passport desk, which is the largest desk (to the left of the corridor in front of you). Get a postcard sized entry card and fill it in with your details.
- Now go to the small Visa desk to the left of the Passport desk. Through the window, buy an Egypt entry visa for 15 USD (pay 92 Egyptian Pounds, about £10). Hand the Visa, the entry card and your passport into an officer at the Passport desk.
- Wait for up to 2 hours until your name is called by an officer at the Passport desk. Position yourself close enough to the desk so that the officers can see you and that you can hear the names being yelled. Once your name is yelled out, collect your passport, take your luggage and proceed down the long corridor on the right.
- Show your passport to the officer towards the end of the corridor. At the end of the corridor, purchase an exit ticket for 50 Egyptian pounds (£5).
- With your luggage, proceed to the exit gates and flash your exit ticket. Make a dash for the long limousine taxis on the right hand side of the road. You will again be flooded with offers of assistance as people try to take over your luggage. As before, deny all offers with firm deliveries of the phrase, ‘la, shu-kran’.
- Go to one of the taxi drivers and say, ‘Cairo?’. If he replies affirmatively, insist on 120 Egyptian pounds (£13) as the price to take you to your destination in Cairo. If he tries to negotiate, insist indefinitely. He will then ask you where in Cairo your destination is. Load your own luggage onto the taxi’s roof. You will leave as soon as the taxi is full with another 6 people.
- The journey to Cairo will take 6 hours. If you stop half way for refreshments at a roadside restaurant, pay increased attention to your belongings; remember that Egypt is not as safe as Gaza in this respect.
- When you arrive at your destination in Cairo, you are probably feeling the bite of having made the mistake of leaving Gaza. Good luck.
Cost in total: £40
Travel time in total: 15 hours.
In conclusion, you will need:
- Internal Protection contact information
- Israeli Shekels and Egyptian Pounds
- A destination in Cairo