Thousands of people have gathered on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border with the Gaza Strip to offer their hearts and hands to the aid agencies attempting to deliver much-needed humanitarian assistance to besieged Palestinian following a three-week Israeli offensive that decimated much of the territory.
A few meters away from the Gaza Strip at the Egyptian side of the Rafah border stands thousands of Arabs and many expatriates anxious to volunteer to elevate the suffering of the people of Gaza who until recently withstood the heaviest military ordeal to date.
An influx of volunteers from near and far, Arab and foreign, expressed their desire to alleviate the suffering caused by the war. Some drove from nearby towns to drop off boxes of canned food while others travelled thousands of miles to help unload boxes of food and relief supplies from trucks.
Walid al-Saadoun, 32, came from Saudi Arabia to help with relief efforts.
“It was difficult for me to take a back seat and watch my brethren in Gaza suffer as they do. Ignoring their plight is a crime against humanity," Saadoun told AlArabiya.net, adding that he is one among dozens of like minded young Saudis determined to help with relief efforts.
He and the others flew with a Saudi Red Crescent convoy to al-Arish, the nearest airport, 45 kilometers (28 miles) to the Rafah border. There the arduous process of transferring the aid to Gaza began.
"The work is hard but definitely worth it. We have to load the supplies from the Saudi cargo plane onto Egyptian trucks and once in Rafah, everything is reloaded into Palestinian trucks licensed to drive in Gaza," he explained.
Volunteering in Rafah was the least he could do for Palestinians under siege.
Two Turkish nationals who were in Sharm el-Sheikh for their annual winter holiday when the war took place cut their vacation short and headed to Rafha to volunteer at the border.
"As soon as we heard that volunteers flock to Rafah, we immediately decided to travel to join them," Osman Muhammad told AlArabiya.net.
"The Turkish people have donated food and aid to support the people of Gaza. We worked for five days with the convoy teams here, loading and reloading boxes of aid at a fast speed," Attilay Helmi, Muhammad's friend, told AlArabiya.net.
Since Israel's offensive on Gaza on Dec. 27, huge amounts of humanitarian aid have been shipped by sea, land and air from around the world to Gaza, but little has reached the 80 percent of residents who depend on aid.
Aid agencies protested their inability to reach their warehouses inside the besieged strip because of security conditions. The World Food Program said it has only managed to bring in 3,552 metric tonnes of food into Gaza, only 66 percent of what it can stock in Gaza.
Thousands of Egyptian workers in Rafah, al-Arish and other nearby towns have donated their time and energy reloading cargo in cars and trucks to take to the border.
Among these was 30-year-old Ahmed Abu Marzooq, who told AlArabiya.net that unloading supplies was the biggest logistical challenge for aid convoys because of lack of manpower.
"There is lots of cargo, but not enough convoy workers to help in the transporting process. But very soon the local workers found out and went to help without expecting any compensation," he said.
Marzooq said he makes a weekly trip from al-Arish, where he works in room service at a motel, to Rafah to volunteer.
"Every week the work load is different, depending on the flow of aid trucks," he said.
Although the journey can be tiring, Marzooq said it is his duty.
"This is my jihad-struggle-as a Muslim. My Muslim brothers and sisters are dying just across the border so I do not have the luxury to sit and watch them die," he explained.
North Sinai Governor Major General Mohamed Shousha told AlArabiya.net that the wave of volunteers in Rafah underscored the strong will of the Arabs, the Egyptians and foreigners.
"From the first two weeks of this unprecedented massacre of Gaza, we witnessed the gift of collective work of ordinary citizens of the people of Sinai, who unloaded 61 planes loaded with relief materials, carrying an estimated amount of 1309 tons in addition to about one thousand tons, which arrived on trucks," he said.
Shousha added that since the first two weeks of the crisis, the numbers of volunteers doubled.