We publish the report sent from the Rafah crossing, on the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, by ARCI President Walter Massa, a member of the Italian delegation organized by AOI (1), in collaboration with ARCI (2) and Assopace Palestine and composed of 50 people including parliamentarians, associations, NGOs, academics and journalists.

We returned a little over an hour ago from the Rafah crossing. I didn’t think I would hear and see worse things than I have heard in the past few days. But I did. The endless lines of trucks stopped with aid from all over the world; two main parking lots, one with 800 and the other with over 1,000 trucks, not to mention those parked along the road. Under the scorching sun with all kinds of materials, food and non-food.

Impressive to see all these [trucks] standing still with their drivers, parked without explanations, information, and services for 10/20 and even 30 days. Arriving at the crossing and seeing 15 Tir [trucks] go through in about three hours and being told by Scott Anderson, Deputy Director of UNRWA Gaza, who came out of Gaza specifically to meet us, that yesterday was a lucky day: 40 Tir [trucks] all day. Our Tir [trucks] all came in, but that is meager consolation in the face of it all. And his tale, as unbelievable as it can be, was worse than the picture his colleagues had given us yesterday. But that was not the hardest part to digest: we left the crossing and headed to one of the Egyptian Red Crescent hubs. Thousands and thousands of humanitarian materials are stored for months here, just a few miles from where people are dying from hunger and lack of adequate health care, as well as from bombs. Here you sense the intentionality of Israeli policy in pursuing, in addition to devastating military action, the persecution of human beings, of women, men, and children guilty only of being born Palestinian. No words get stuck in our throats when the head of the Egyptian Red Crescent tells us that all these materials have been rejected by the Israeli army. Chocolate is included because it is not considered a primary good.

And I remind myself: 30,000 dead that could soon become 85,000 as the medical/health situation worsens in a matter of months. We walk around this facility amid thousands and thousands of tons of aid and tools, oxygen tanks, incubators, water filtration machines, food, and, indeed, chocolate. It’s close to 25 degrees outside. Not only that, [but] outside, dozens and dozens of ambulances are parked, many of them new. It is humanly devastating, this circus of death. I don’t know if you can still call it inhumanity; perhaps sadism is the right word. Or so it seems to those of us here who touch with our own hands how the Israeli government, at the hands of its occupying army, tramples international law with impunity. The long return does not assuage the anger of having been only a few miles from the inferno and having been unable to do anything about it. Thanks to my Arci and Arcs (3) who in these intense days did not let me feel alone. And thanks to Clara and Francesco for all they did for this mission and their militancy; their tears at the crossing were mine, they were ours.

Walter Massa, ARCI National President

(1) Cooperation and Solidarity International
(2) The Arci Federation brings together 14 associations that, at different times, were born from the original experience of the Italian Association of Recreational Culture founded in Florence in 1957.
(3) ARCs solidarity cultures