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Egypt reopens Rafah crossing for second day

May 12, 2016 11:06 A.M. (Updated: May 13, 2016 11:42 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities reopened the Rafah crossing with the besieged Gaza Strip for the second day in a row on Thursday, after an 85-day closure.

The Gaza crossings committee said that 443 Palestinians were able to enter Egypt on Wednesday, while an untold number of Palestinians stuck abroad were able to re-enter the Gaza Strip. Seven buses and several ambulances were also admitted through the crossing during the day, according to the committee.

Priority was given to Egyptian passport holders, humanitarian cases, students, and Palestinians with foreign residency.

Egyptian authorities also allowed cement trucks to enter the Palestinian side via the crossing.

The Gaza Ministry of Interior said on Wednesday that the two-day opening was too short a time to process the more than 30,000 passengers registered to cross and waiting for their turn, including humanitarian cases, students who attend schools abroad, patients in need of treatment outside of Gaza, and visa holders who live and work abroad.

Egypt has upheld an Israeli military blockade on the Gaza Strip for the majority of the past three years, since the ouster of President Muhammad Morsi in 2013 and the rise to power of Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt.

The nearly 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.

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