YA HALA, a F”R”EE  entry to reach Egypt

By Andrea Tucci,

Officially, Egypt controls its side of the Rafah crossing while Palestinian authorities control the Gazan side. However, Israel indirectly control the Gazan side by rejecting the entry of certain humanitarian aid goods and by making the crossing minimally operational and unsafe for convoys to enter.

Palestinians can only leave Gaza for Egypt by listing their names with a service called Ya Hala (you are welcome in Arabic) an Egyptian Consulting and Tourism company that charges five thousands of dollars for arranging individual evacuations, in cooperation with Egyptian authorities.

Hala is owned by an Egyptian businessman, Ibrahim al-Argany, who has close ties with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Al-Argany is from the Tarabin tribe in the Sinai Peninsula, one of the largest and most powerful tribes in North Sinai.

 After been arrested and imprisoned for several years, he suffered a stroke in prison before he was released following the January 2011 revolution.

After his release, he began a new life. He became a collaborator with the Military Council and the army leaders. 

Al-Argany began to reunite the Sinai tribes and he established an armed militia called the Union of Sinai Tribes (UST), to confront the armed groups after the 2013 coup led by Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and he has, since several years, a strong friendship with Mahmoud Al-Sisi, the General Intelligence officer and son of the Egyptian president.

Al-Sisi’s son helped him establish the Organi Group, making him a very wealthy tycoon within a few years.

However, the biggest business between Al-Organi and Mahmoud Al-Sisi was in Hajj Ibrahim’s birthplace, North Sinai.

After Al-Sisi came to power, he proceeded to wipe the Egyptian cities of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid from the map. He displaced the inhabitants and established a buffer zone between Egypt and the Gaza Strip to a depth of five kilometres in Sinai. He completed his mission by flooding the tunnels linking Egyptian Rafah and its Palestinian counterpart under the border with the Gaza Strip.

Al-Sisi tightened his grip on the border and closed the Rafah crossing for years, with no one exiting or entering without permission or coordination through Hala Consulting and Tourism.

Another Organi Group company that has the task of developing the entire Egyptian Rafah crossing and also fully responsible for all logistical services there is the Abnaa Sinai Company. The Organi Group is also responsible for the entry of Arab and international aid from Egypt to the Gaza Strip.

Speaking by phone with a Palestinian mother : “I was surprised to know that the lives of Gazans are so worthless but then when I arrived at the Rafah crossing I learned how come our lives were worth nothing in front of the entire world, but now in front at the Rafah border our lives worth a lot…..

Top Stories