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Gaza official: Egypt pledged to ease Rafah travel in days

Sept. 27, 2012 10:55 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 29, 2012 2:51 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egypt has informed Palestinian officials that it will introduce measures to ease travel through the Gaza Strip's Rafah crossing in the coming days, a crossings official said Thursday.

Gaza crossing director Maher Abu Sabha said they understand the crossing will be opened on Fridays, the weekend day it is usually shut.

Everyday working hours, currently from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., will also be increased, Abu Sabha said.

The number of passengers permitted to travel each day will be raised to 1,500, he added.

Next week, work will start to expand the terminal's reception hall to a capacity of 700 people, the official said.

The Gaza Strip is under an Israeli land and sea blockade, and Rafah, its sole border crossing not controlled by Israel, is the only one which opens regularly for passengers.

Hamas officials have asked Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood-led government to ease restrictions put in place under the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, but Cairo has hesitated.

A series of attacks in the Sinai since the fall of the Egyptian regime have been vaguely blamed on Palestinian militants and Egypt has cited stability as a factor in keeping the crossing closed.

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