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Official: Egypt crossing can transfer goods to Gaza

Dec. 1, 2012 3:09 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 2, 2012 5:01 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egypt's Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip was used to transfer humanitarian supplies during Israel's recent assault, showing that Egypt could help break the economic siege on Gaza, Palestinian border officials said Saturday.

Rafah is Gaza's only border crossing not controlled by Israel, which imposes a blockade on the coastal strip.

During Israel's eight-day assault, medical and humanitarian goods were transferred through the crossing into Gaza, “which proves the terminal can be used for shipping goods,” crossings director Mahir Abu Sabha said.

Since the fall of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt has relaxed its own border restrictions, opening the terminal for passengers.

However, Egypt said Rafah is not equipped for good transfers and its development is restricted under international agreements.

An official from Gaza's Ministry of Public Works said Friday they will sign an agreement with Egypt next week for construction materials to enter the Gaza Strip via Rafah.

Passengers policy

Abu Sabha confirmed that there were still some restrictions on Palestinian passengers using the crossing to travel abroad.

Egypt had required Palestinians in Gaza wanting to travel abroad to be escorted under guard from Rafah to the airport, and not permitted to enter the country.

This policy was relaxed, but on Saturday Palestinians travelers told Ma'an they were being escorted again to Cairo airport. Abu Sabha said Egypt had not entirely ended its transfer policy.

But he noted that the crossing was open seven days a week, with around 700 passengers traveling each day.
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