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Rafah border open on Monday for pilgrims, patients

Oct. 13, 2008 1:26 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 13, 2008 1:26 P.M.)
Gaza - Ma'an - The long-closed Rafah border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt will open briefly on Monday to allow returning Muslim pilgrims and medical patients to cross, a Palestinian official said.

The spokesman of the Interior Ministry in the de facto government in Gaza, Ehab Al-Ghussein, said the border would be open for an unspecified number of people. He said there is still no word about when the 3,500 Palestinians who have asked to leave Gaza will be able to do so. Al-Ghussein said that figure includes some 700 students enrolled in foreign universities and 450 patients seeking treatment elsewhere.

Al-Ghussein urged Egypt to ease the suffering Palestinians in Gaza and reopen the border. He said the Interior Ministry is "ready any time" for the border to be opened.

The Rafah border has been closed since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, in keeping with an Israeli-led blockade of the tiny coastal territory.

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