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Rafah crossing suddenly closed; hundreds denied passage to Egypt

Sept. 21, 2008 2:59 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 21, 2008 2:59 P.M.)
Gaza - Ma'an - Rafah crossing closed suddenly on Sunday despite earlier promises to let students and those holding foreign passports leave Gaza for Egypt.

Palestinian border authorities reported the abrupt closure Sunday afternoon. Those waiting at the crossing who are not denied exit into Egypt are stranded students, patients and holders of foreign passports and visas whose names appeared in the lists published by the de facto government interior ministry Sunday.

Earlier reports expected 1,400 individuals to pass through the crossing, including 800 students and 500 hundred citizens working and living will leave the Strip on Sunday, as well as 100 others for whom Egypt has requested special passage.

Only 8 buses carrying students travelled into Egypt on Sunday. All the students had been okayed for travel on Saturday, but delays forced the busses to postpone crossing.

The Egyptians did not give any explanations for the sudden stoppage. Egypt announced on Saturday that the Rafah crossing would be open for two days, Saturday and Sunday so Hajj pilgrims, students, patients and holders of foreign passports and visas could exit the area.

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