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Egypt opens Rafah crossing with Gaza for 4-day opening

Dec. 16, 2017 1:33 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 18, 2017 3:28 P.M.)
GAZA (Ma’an) -- Egyptian authorities on Saturday opened the Rafah border crossing with the besieged Gaza Strip for the first day in a four day, two-way opening.

Official palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency reported that the crossing will be open for four days to allow humanitarian cases to leave and enter Gaza.

The Palestinian Ministry of Education in Gaza reportedly urged students from Gaza that are enrolled or have been accepted to universities abroad, to take advantage of the opening and leave.

“Palestinians anxious to travel for study, medical treatment, or business for holders of residency permits in other countries, have gathered at the terminal awaiting their term on the buses leaving to Egypt,” Wafa reported.

The last time the crossing was opened was on November 18 for three 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.

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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