Palestinians still need visa to enter Egypt: Airport source

Ahram Online, Monday 23 Jul 2012

A source at Cairo International Airport denies news reports that Egypt has started allowing Palestinians free entry into the country

File photo: A Palestinian boy waits to cross the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip (Photo: Reuters)

A source at Cairo Airport told Ahram Online employees have not received any instructions to allow Palestinians to enter Egypt without a visa.

Earlier on Monday, Associated Press news agency quoted Egyptian Airport officials saying that Egypt has started allowing Palestinians free entry into the country, ending part of a five-year blockade on the Gaza Strip.

The decision would mean Palestinians can freely leave Gaza, says AP, pointing out that the decision also applies to Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

But the Cairo airport source told Ahram Online otherwise. "The regulations governing Palestinians' entry into Egypt has remained the same since 2004. We have not received any other instructions yet," he said, adding that, "this is not a decision that could be taken over the night or without proper precautions", he added."

All male Palestinians between the age 18 and 40 are required to be holding a valid visa to Egypt to be able to enter the country, while others should have a valid residency in another country. As for those who leave Gaza for religious trips, they are accompanied from Cairo Airport to the Rafah check point to return to Gaza.

Two weeks ago, Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said that he was "confident" that Egypt's President Mursi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, would fully open the Gaza border to trade. Also, during his visit to Cairo over the weekend, Khaled Mashaal the leader of Hamas said that "he was promised good news" by the Egyptian president.  

The blockade on Gaza was imposed by Israel after Hamas was able to establish control of Gaza in 2007. The blockade banned most Palestinians from leaving and caused widespread hardship, described by most aid agencies and human rights organizations as a form of collective punishment.

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