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Egyptian authorities to open Rafah to humanitarian cases Tuesday

Sept. 5, 2016 10:57 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 5, 2016 10:57 P.M.)
GAZA (Ma'an) -- Egyptian Authorities decided on Monday to open the Rafah border crossing from the besieged Gaza Strip for humanitarian cases for one more day.

Palestinian Sources at the crossing said Egyptian authorities informed them that they will continue to open the crossing on Tuesday in both sides.

The crossing was initially to be open for Saturday and Sunday only, during which time Egyptian authorities allowed 1,200 Palestinian to cross into Egypt, of the some 23,000 Palestinian humanitarian cases that have been waiting to cross.

Gaza Interior Ministry spokesperson Eyad al-Bozom had called upon Egyptian authorities in a statement on Saturday to extend the opening for a few more days to allow the tens of thousands of humanitarian cases waiting to cross.

Egyptian authorities also opened the crossing on Monday to allow Muslim pilgrims to leave for Saudi Arabia for the Hajj, allowing hundreds to leave. 

Last Tuesday, Egyptian authorities opened the crossing for three days to allow Palestinians passage for the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

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

While the Egyptian border has remained the main lifeline for Gazans to the outside world, Egyptian authorities have slowly sealed off movement through the border since Morsi was toppled by the Egyptian army.

Due to the constraints on Palestinian movement through the crossing, many Gazans are commonly barred from leaving or entering the besieged coastal enclave, some for months at a time, as the crossing is only periodically opened by Egyptian authorities, stranding Palestinians on both sides of the crossing during closures.

In 2015, the Rafah crossing was closed for 344 days. The crossing has been reopened on a more regular basis since the beginning of 2016.

The near decade-long 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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