Nearly 1000 cross Rafah on first day of border-crossing's opening

Monday 22-12-2014 10:21 AM
Nearly 1000 cross Rafah on first day of border-crossing's opening

A Palestinian girl, hoping to cross into Egypt with her mother, is pictured through a fence as she waits at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip December 21, 2014. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa


CAIRO, Dec 22 (Aswat Masriya) – Nearly 1000 people crossed over from Egypt to Gaza and vice versa during the first day of opening the Rafah border-crossing in Sinai on Monday, reported state television.

Egypt announced opening the border-crossing on Sunday and Monday, allowing two-way movement for the first time since October.

Six-hundred and fourteen entered Egypt through the border-crossing on Sunday, whereas 381 left Egypt for the strip, reported state television.

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 Monday as well.

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.

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 Gaza 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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