Week-long opening of Egypt-Gaza border crossing comes to an end

Ahram Online , Saturday 20 Jun 2015

Gaza's only gateway to the outside world not controlled by Israel, Rafah has been largely closed for two years with Cairo citing security concerns

An Egyptian soldier keeps watch at the closed Rafah border crossing, between southern Gaza Strip and Egypt November 6, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian authorities closed late Friday Rafah Crossing after it was open in both directions for a week, the border crossing authority in Gaza told AFP.

Palestinian border official Maher Abu Sabha reported in a statement that, "3,819 citizens were able to travel from Gaza through the crossing during the week and that 1,012 stranded passengers arrived in Gaza."

Abu Sabha added there are "12,000 citizens registered on the lists of the interior ministry in Gaza still waiting for their turn to travel," expressing hope that the crossing would "re-open in both directions permanently" to end the suffering of Gaza citizens.

This was the first time that the crossing, which is the only way not controlled by Israel for Palestinians to move in and out of Gaza, has been opened for people travelling in both directions since March.

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

Egypt has kept 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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