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Egypt opens Rafah crossing for 2 days after months of closure

Dec. 3, 2015 1:37 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 3, 2015 8:54 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing on Thursday for humanitarian cases after a near permanent closure during 2015, Palestinian officials said.

The border crossing with the Gaza Strip was opened Thursday for two days, with one bus leaving the Gaza Strip for Egypt by the afternoon, a Ma'an reporter said.

Other buses carrying passengers were waiting in line to use the crossing, with priority given to humanitarian cases who have previously registered to cross the terminal.

Over 25,000 Palestinians in Gaza have registered as humanitarian cases to use the crossing, including patients requiring medical treatment and students studying abroad.

The Rafah crossing, Gaza's only access to the outside world, has only been open for 19 days in 2015, according to the Palestinian Authority committee for crossings and borders.

The border crossing was last open to Palestinians seeking medical treatment on Aug. 21, concluding a period of four days during which 2,579 humanitarian cases were able to leave.

A weekly average of around 250 have entered and exited the enclave through the Rafah crossing since the start of 2015, down significantly from the around 950 Palestinians who entered and exited on average per week in 2014.

The Rafah crossing is the primary lifeline to the outside world for Gaza's 1.8 million residents, but has been severely restricted by the Egyptian authorities over the past year.

Egypt has done little to alleviate Israel's eight-year blockade on the Gaza Strip, which has severely restricted imports and exports into the territory and denied Gazans' freedom of movement.
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