Egypt re-closes border crossing with Gaza

Ahram Online , Friday 12 Jul 2013

After attacks on security sites in Sinai, the Rafah crossing is closed

After two days of being partially open, Egypt once again closed its border crossing with the Gaza Strip on Friday, a security source told AFP.

The Rafah crossing was closed on Friday 5 July due to security concerns, hours after an assault on military and police sites in north Sinai. It was later opened on Wednesday for several hours to allow stranded Palestinians to return and foreigners to leave the Gaza Strip.

The passage is the only gateway to the world for the 1.7 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, which is governed by the Islamist Hamas group, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood movement of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.

Tunnels along Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip, which Palestinians used to circumvent the Israeli blockade of the enclave and Egyptian-imposed border restrictions, have also been shut for ten days, leading to an acute shortage of food and goods in Gaza, particularly fuel. A crackdown by Egypt's army months ago on the large network of tunnels also exacerbated severe fuel shortages in Gaza.

Since Morsi’s ouster on 3 July, hardcore Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula have intensified their attacks on security checkpoints.

One Egyptian policeman was killed and another was badly injured on Friday in the latest of a string of attacks on security sites.

Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, where the Rafah border is located, has been plagued by a security vacuum and a resulting rise in militant activity since the 2011 revolution which toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

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