CreditWissam Nassar for The New York Times
GAZA — Something drove Ishaq Khalil Hassan, 28, into the Mediterranean last week, to walk naked in the shallow surf, to attempt what has become all but impossible for Palestinians: an escape from the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian officials insisted that Mr. Hassan, who tried to wade across the border into Egypt on Thursday, was mentally ill. His family said he was sane, but desperate — he had been trying all year, unsuccessfully, to legally enter Egypt for medical treatment for an old injury.
“Ishaq thought that Egyptians will be like Europeans, who deal with Syrians and welcome them,” said his brother, Ibrahim Hassan.
But as soon as Mr. Hassan crossed the frontier, Egyptian border guards opened fire, spraying the sea with bullets while ignoring a Palestinian guard who whistled and frantically gestured with his hands that Mr. Hassan had mental problems. A video that captured the shooting made at least one thing clear: Mr. Hassan appeared to pose no immediate threat to anyone.
When the firing stopped, Egyptian soldiers pulled Mr. Hassan’s apparently lifeless body from the water, as the camera kept rolling: an image that evoked the perilous journeys of migrants across the Mediterranean but also laid bare the hemmed in lives of Palestinians in Gaza, unable to wander even a few steps from their own borders.
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