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Egypt reopens Gaza crossing for first time in 3 weeks

June 1, 2016 1:59 P.M. (Updated: June 3, 2016 9:37 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Egyptian authorities on Wednesday morning opened the Rafah border crossing with the besieged Gaza Strip for the first of four days, the Palestinian borders and crossings committee told Ma’an.

The committee said that seven busloads of passengers were transported to the Abu Yousif al-Najjar sports center in the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis before they were sent to the Rafah crossing.

They added that priority was given to passengers who didn’t make it through the crossing when it was last opened three weeks earlier.

Egypt has only opened the Rafah crossing on a sporadic basis in recent years. In early May, it reopened the crossing for two days, with only several hundred of the more than 30,000 passengers registered to cross making it through.

The director for the Palestinian side of Rafah crossing, Hisham Udwan, expressed his appreciation of the Egyptian decision to reopen the crossing.

“We view the opening of Rafah crossing for a second time in three weeks as a very positive move, hoping that it will be open permanently to ease the crisis the Gaza population is suffering from,” he said.

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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