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Hundreds cross Rafah as Egypt continues to open crossing for 3rd day

Nov. 20, 2017 12:27 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 21, 2017 1:52 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities continued to open the Rafah crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Egypt on Monday for the third and final day, allowing humanitarian cases, students, and holders of Egyptian residency to pass through.

Hundreds of Palestinians passed through the crossing over the past two days, as thousands more waited for a chance to travel via the crossing, which had been closed for more than 100 days before it was opened over the weekend.

The crossing was reopened on Saturday for three days, under the Palestinian Authority's (PA) control for the first time in 10 years.

Delegations of several Palestinian factions are scheduled to cross Rafah on Monday on their way to Cairo to continue reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas.

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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