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Egypt to open Rafah crossing for 3rd day

Feb. 14, 2016 9:10 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 29, 2016 5:02 P.M.)
Palestinians gather in front of the Rafah crossing between the southern Gaza Strip and Egypt, Jan. 16, 2015. (AFP/Said Khatib, File)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian Authorities will extended the opening of Rafah crossing for a third day on Monday, the department of borders and crossings in Gaza Strip said.

Egyptian authorities exceptionally opened the crossing Saturday, after 70 consecutive days of closure.

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.

On Sunday, 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 the country 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 offensives 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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