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Rafah crossing opens for second day as Gaza calls for extension

Feb. 14, 2016 11:32 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 14, 2016 6:25 P.M.)
GAZA (Ma’an) -- Egyptian authority opened the Rafah crossing south of the Gaza Strip for the second day in a row on Sunday.

Hundreds of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip gathered in the southern city of Khan Yunis to cross into Egypt for the second of a two-day opening of the crossing.

This is the first time Egyptian authorities opened the crossing this year, a rare move given that Egypt has upheld an for the majority of the past three years an Israeli military blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Gaza’s Ministry of Interior spokesman Iyad al-Bazam urged Egypt to extend the opening of the Rafah crossing for a few more days to ease the crisis in Gaza, where more than 25,000 people with urgent needs -- including around 3,500 medical cases -- are registered and waiting to cross.

The ministry said that more than 700 Palestinians were allowed to go through the Rafah crossing on Saturday, and more than 700 others were allowed to come in from Egypt, after being stuck in Egypt for more than 70 days since the last time the crossing was opened.

The nine-year Israeli blockade has plunged the Gaza Strip’s more than 1.8 million Palestinians into poverty. The destruction from three Israeli offenses over the past six years and slow reconstruction due to the blockade led the UN in September to warn that Gaza could be “uninhabitable” by 2020.

A survey of Gaza’s Palestinians conducted last year reported that half of the population would emigrate from the enclave if they had the opportunity.
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