Egypt closes Rafah border following return of Palestinian pilgrims

Ahram Online , Friday 9 Oct 2015

The border crossing was opened, in one-direction only, for three days

Rafah crossing
Egyptian soldiers stand guard at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza after Egypt closed the crossing following the deadly attack on its soldiers on Sunday, August 6, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian authorities have closed the Rafah border crossing following a three-day opening to allow Palestinian pilgrims arriving from Saudi Arabia to return to their homeland, an official at the border told MENA on Friday.

The total number of pilgrims who crossed the border during those two days was 2258, along with 29 Palestinians who were being deported to the Gaza strip.

The Gaza Strip has been subject to three Israeli assaults in the past six years that have claimed 3,760 lives and destroyed or damaged 100,000 housing units.

More than 100,000 people are still displaced, leading to a demand for medical supplies and construction materials.

When open, the Rafah border crossing is used by humanitarian aid convoys to transport these much-needed goods.

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 an average of three-day periods, allowing those in need of medical care to travel to Egypt, and permitting other Palestinians to travel 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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