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Egypt closes Rafah crossing after four-day opening

June 5, 2016 10:27 P.M. (Updated: June 6, 2016 12:10 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip on Sunday evening for passengers leaving the besieged coastal enclave for Egypt, while the crossing remained open in the other direction, Palestinian sources told Ma’an.

The sources said that eight buses, including one filled with Egyptian passport holders, left the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the last day of a four-day reopening of the Rafah crossing.

Palestinian officials were not notified about any possible extension of the opening, the sources added, estimating that some 3,000 people were able to leave the Gaza Strip during the four-days the crossing was opened this week.

Egyptian authorities announced earlier this month that the crossing would open for four days ahead of the holy month of Ramadan.

The four-day window permitting travelers to enter and leave the besieged coastal enclave came three weeks after a two-day opening in May, which was the first time Egyptian authorities had operated the crossing in 85 days.

Saturday was the third day Egypt’s Rafah crossing was open for operation, after a total of 1,635 Palestinian travelers passed through the crossing on Wednesday and Thursday, and it was closed on Friday.

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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