Egypt opens Rafah border crossing for two days

Ahram Online , Reuters , Sunday 21 Dec 2014

Palestinian students and patients are allowed to cross the Egypt-Gaza border for the first time in two months

Egypt opened on Sunday the Rafah border crossing with Gaza for the first time in two months, Egyptian and Palestinian officials told Reuters. 

The Rafah crossing will be open for two days only, on Sunday and Monday, from 9am to 4pm. Palestinian students and patients, as well Palestinians living abroad, will be allowed to cross between Egypt and Gaza. 

Maher Abu Sabha, the Hamas-appointed director of crossings, said Rafah would be open for two days to allow Gazans with serious illnesses to travel to Egypt and beyond for treatment and to allow foreign nationals and students to travel.

An Egyptian official, citing "security reasons," said there was no decision yet to allow the permanent and full opening of the crossing as was the case before 25 October. 

The Egyptian authorities closed the crossing following the deadly attack on an Egyptian armed forces checkpoint on 25 October when at least 31 army personnel were killed. Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for the attack. Egyptian authorities usually close the Rafah crossing following major attacks against its security forces. 

Hamas leaders have distanced themselves from violence in Egypt and say they have no armed presence in areas outside Palestinian boundaries.

Since then, Cairo has opened the crossing only twice to allow thousands of Palestinians stranded in Egypt and beyond to return to Gaza, which is dominated by the Islamist Hamas faction.

Egypt’s army has been facing a decade-long jihadist militant insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, with militant attacks increasing over the past year and expanding into Cairo and the Nile Delta, killing hundreds of army and police personnel. The military has also announced killing and arresting hundreds of militants.

Civilians have also been caught up in the violence.

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