Egypt opens Rafah border-crossing in both directions for two days

Saturday 20-12-2014 01:11 PM
Egypt opens Rafah border-crossing in both directions for two days

People, hoping to cross into Egypt, stand behind a gate as they wait at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip August 5, 2014. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa


CAIRO, Dec 20 (Aswat Masriya) – Egypt will open the Rafah border-crossing in Sinai on Sunday and Monday, allowing two-way movement through the crossing, reported the state-run news agency MENA.

The border-crossing, which connects the Sinai Peninsula to the besieged Gaza Strip, will be opened from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days, MENA reported.

Egypt closed the Rafah border-crossing on October 25 "until further notice" following deadly militant attacks in Sinai a day earlier which rendered at least 33 security personnel killed.

Nazmi Mhana, the director-general of the Palestinian Crossings Authority, said the decision to open the border-crossing is a result of "extensive communication" and coordination efforts between the Palestinian leadership and Egyptian officials, reported MENA.

Mhana reportedly added that the decision stresses that "Egypt is doing its best to facilitate the movement of Gazans and alleviate their suffering."

MENA had earlier reported that the two-day opening will only be one way, where only movement from Egypt to Gaza would be allowed.

At least 30 military personnel were killed in a suicide blast which targeted a security checkpoint in Sinai's Sheikh Zuweid on October 24, in the worst militant attack since the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July 2013.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared a three-month state of emergency and a nighttime curfew in parts of the Peninsula in response to the militant attacks.

The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said in a report on the strip last week that this is the longest period of time for the border-crossing to remain closed since 2008.

The office added that there are around 10,000 registered people waiting to exit the strip, including over a thousand medical patients, citing Gaza's Border and Crossing Authority.

Since the October attacks in Sinai, the crossing has only been opened for four days; November 26, 27, 30 and December1, OCHA reported. It added that opening the crossing "allow[ed] some 3242 out of an estimated 6000 who are believed to be stranded in Egypt to return."

Gaza has been under a land, air and sea blockade enforced by Israel since 2007, after the Islamist group Hamas won the Palestinian legislative election and became in control of the strip. Egypt has mostly kept its border with Gaza closed since then.

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