Egypt extends opening of Rafah border crossing to Palestinians for 2 days

Ahram Online , Monday 15 Jun 2015

The border crossing with the Gaza Strip will now remain open in both directions until Wednesday

Rafah crossing
A bus carrying Palestinians passes by Egyptian solders and an armored personnel carrier at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, Wednesday, May 22, 2013 (Photo: AP)

Egypt on Monday extended the opening of its Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip to Palestinians for a further two days.

Opened on Saturday, the border crossing will now close on Wednesday.

This is the first time that the terminal, which is the only way for Palestinians to move in and out of Gaza, has been opened for people travelling in both directions since March.

The crossing was partially opened on 27 May for three days, but only for travellers from Egypt to Gaza, when at least 560 Palestinians were able to return home.

Palestinians who use the crossing comprise mainly of students heading to universities in Egypt or beyond, and those seeking medical treatment abroad.

Gaza, with a population of over 1.5 million, has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007, following the electoral victory of the Islamist Hamas in the legislative elections in the occupied territories in 2006.

Egypt has kept the Rafah crossing closed to Palestinians for most of the past two years, citing security concerns. Cairo has repeatedly accused Hamas, the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip, of involvement in terrorist activities in the Sinai Peninsula.

Hamas leaders have distanced themselves from Islamist militant attacks in Egypt, insisting that they have no armed presence outside Palestinian areas.

In 2014, the Egyptian army also created a wide buffer zone along the border with Gaza aimed at preventing infiltration by militants.

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