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Egypt to open Rafah crossing from Monday to Wednesday

March 4, 2017 10:26 P.M. (Updated: March 5, 2017 4:30 P.M.)
(File)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities on Saturday evening announced that the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip would be opened in both directions on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, according to spokesman of Gaza's crossings committee Hisham Udwan.

The terminal was opened temporarily on Friday to allow a delegation of 150 youths from the coastal enclave to travel to Egypt, where they partook in a conference in the Red Sea coastal city Ain Sokhna, Udwan added.

Since the beginning of the year, Egyptian authorities have opened the crossing in both direction twice, most recently in mid-February.

Egypt has upheld an Israeli military blockade on the Gaza Strip since the ousting of former President Muhammad Morsi in 2013 and the rise to power of 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.

According to the United Nations, during 2016, the crossing was partially opened for only 44 days. In 2015, the crossing had only been open for 21 days.

The decade-long Israeli blockade has plunged the Gaza Strip’s two million Palestinians into extreme poverty and some of the highest unemployment rates in the world.

Gaza's infrastructure has yet to recover from the devastation of three Israeli offensives over the past six years. The slow and sometimes stagnant reconstruction of the besieged coastal enclave has only been worsened by the blockade, leading the UN to warn that Gaza could be “uninhabitable” by 2020.
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