Egypt partially reopens border with Gaza

Ahram Online , Saturday 20 Jul 2013

Rafah crossing to be open four hours a day following intermittent closures in wake of Morsi ouster and rising Sinai violence

Egyptian Army soldiers guard the gates during a protest by policemen at the main Egyptian crossing point into the Gaza Strip which has been closed for the third day, in Rafah city, about 350 km (217 miles) northeast of Cairo, May 19, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt reopened its border crossing with the Gaza Strip on Saturday, an official source told state news agency MENA.

The Rafah crossing will be open daily for four hours so as to allow "stranded patients, humanitarian cases, as well as foreigners" to cross the enclave, the source added.

Egyptian authorities have closed the passage several times since former president Mohamed Morsi's removal, citing security concerns due to attacks on security forces in the restive Sinai Peninsula, where the Rafah border crossing is located.

The crossing was opened on a permanent basis in 2011 following the ouster of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, whose administration had opposed Gaza's ruling Hamas and helped Israel enforce its blockade on the enclave.

The passage is the only gateway to the world for 1.7 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas has asked Egypt's new government to halt its crackdown on the smuggling tunnels linking Gaza to Egypt, which has severely disrupted the flow of goods into the Palestinian territory.

Since Morsi’s ouster on 3 July, hardcore Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula have intensified their attacks on security checkpoints amid an acute political and security vacuum left since the 2011 revolution toppling longtime autocrat Mubarak.

Numerous security force personnel and civilians have been killed in drive-by shootings and rocket attacks.  According to security sources, the army has killed ten jihadi figures since launching its latest operation to crackdown on attacks.

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