Egypt President Sisi to keep Gaza border open for extra day

Ahram Online , Sunday 14 Feb 2016

The current opening of the borders between the Gaza strip and Egypt is the first in 2016

File photo: 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's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi extended on Sunday the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Gaza for one more day, meaning that it will close on Monday instead of Sunday, state news agency MENA reported.

The decision aims to "aid [our] Palestinian brothers in Gaza," El-Sisi said.

El-Sisi previously ordered the opening of the crossing in both directions for Saturday and Sunday, making it the first time the crossing has been opened in 2016.

On Saturday, the first day that Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing with Gaza, 1,323 people crossed between both sides- 721 people arrived in Egypt from Gaza while 602 crossed in the opposite direction.

Twenty-four trucks transporting 2,265 tonnes of cement needed for Gaza’s reconstruction also crossed the border from Egypt on Saturday.

The Rafah border crossing, which is the main entry and exit point to Gaza, has been mostly closed since October 2014 when a militant attack in North Sinai left over 30 Egyptian security personnel dead.

Egypt has been fighting Islamist militancy in the North Sinai region. Destroying the underground tunnels leading in and out of Gaza was one of several counter-terrorism measures the Egyptian state has adopted.

Egypt sees the tunnels as a pathway for arms and militants that it perceives as a direct threat to the country's security.

However, the Palestinian Centre for Humans Rights said in 2013 that goods imported to Gaza "through tunnels, especially foodstuffs, medicines, fuel, construction materials and cars, have spared the Gaza strip the breakdown of all vital sectors."


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