Egyptian authorities open Rafah border for one day for pilgrims

Ahram Online , Thursday 17 Sep 2015

The border will be closed on the same day

File Photo: A Palestinian man, hoping to cross into Egypt, stands behind a fence as he waits at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip December 21, 2014 (Reuters)

Egyptian authorities have opened the Rafah border crossing from one side on Thursday as an exception to receive pilgrims from the families of Palestinian martyrs travelling from the Gaza Strip to Saudi Arabia, MENA reported.

About 500 people from the families of Palestinians who lost their lives in the Gaza war are performing the Hajj (the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca), an official source on the Rafah border told MENA.

Vehicles have been provided for the pilgrims to travel to Cairo International Airport.

The last time the border was opened was in August 2015, allowing 6,329 people to pass through the border either way.

Egyptian authorities have for the most part kept the Rafah crossing closed since October 2014, following attacks by Islamist militants in Egypt's governorate of North Sinai which left over 30 security personnel dead.

The authorities have on occasion opened the crossing for three-day periods, allowing the passage of those in need of medical care to Egypt as well as Palestinians travelling in either direction.

Cairo has accused the Islamist movement Hamas, the de facto rulers of the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip, of aiding militant groups in northern Sinai. Hamas has repeatedly denied the accusations. 

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