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Egypt re-seals border with Gaza Strip after two days

Dec. 5, 2015 10:11 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 6, 2015 10:15 A.M.)
Palestinians await permission to enter Egypt as they gather inside the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and southern Gaza Strip on Dec. 21, 2014 (AFP/Said Khatib, File)
CAIRO (Ma’an) -- Egyptian authorities on Friday re-sealed the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, upholding a near-permanent closure of the border this year, Egyptian security sources said.

Egyptian security sources told Ma’an that the crossing was closed after Egyptian authorities permitted Palestinian movement through the border for two days.

Around 628 Palestinians passed from Gaza into Egypt on Thursday, and 259 from Egypt to Gaza, the sources said.

Egyptian authorities also released 34 Palestinian prisoners who had been held in Egyptian jails under charges of “illegal infiltration” of Egypt borders, the sources told Ma’an.

Dozens of trucks passed through the crossing during the rare two-day window, carrying medical supplies and materials for reconstruction of the strip, still devastated from Israel’s 2014 offensive that left tens of thousands homeless.

The sources added that 350 Palestinians who planned to cross during the two-day period were unable to leave the besieged enclave Friday evening due to “the curfew in Rafah and Sheikh Zweid,” which began around 7:00 p.m.

Both towns are located on the edge of Egypt’s borderline in the northern Sinai peninsula. Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi declared that the area was in a “state of emergency” in October 2014, and has continually renewed a curfew for residents since.

The state of emergency was declared after over 30 Egyptian military personnel were killed in an attack by anti-regime militants. Such attacks became commonplace after Sisi took power from democratically-elected Muhammad Morsi in July 2013.

The Rafah crossing has only been open for a total of 37 days since the October 2014 attack, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Hamas -- Gaza’s de-facto governing power who was closely allied with the Muslim Brotherhood leader -- has since suffered poor relations with Sisi’s Egypt, which accuses Hamas for supporting Sinai insurgents.

Such relations have led to the ongoing Rafah crossing, a lifeline for Gaza’s 1.8 millions residents who lack basic needs due to Israel’s ongoing blockade of the strip.

During the recent opening, priority was given to humanitarian cases who had previously registered to cross the Rafah terminal.

Authorities in Gaza say that over 25,000 Palestinians in Gaza have registered with “urgent needs” and are still waiting to cross.
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