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Egypt to open Rafah crossing with Gaza for 3 days

Nov. 23, 2017 2:13 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 24, 2017 6:05 P.M.)
Palestinians gather in front of the Rafah crossing between the southern Gaza Strip and Egypt, January 16, 2015. (AFP/Said Khatib, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Following a three-day opening of the Rafah border crossing earlier this week, Egypt is reportedly set to open the crossing with Gaza for another three consecutive days starting on Saturday, according to official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency.

Wafa quoted head of the Palestinian Civil Affairs Authority in Gaza Hussein al-Sheikh as saying that he was informed by Egyptian authorities that decided to open Rafah crossing to allow the movement of Palestinians in and out of the besieged Gaza Strip.

During this week’s opening, hundreds of Palestinians, including humanitarian cases, students, holders of residency permits in other countries and patients seeking treatment outside Gaza, got a rare chance to leave or return to Gaza. Prior to the opening, the crossing was closed for 100 days.

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.

However, Wafa added that with the signing of the national reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas in October -- in which the control of borders was handed over from Hamas to the Fatah-led PA -- Egypt said it would open the crossing more regularly, and that “preparations are underway to open Rafah crossing around the clock.”

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