Egypt reopens border with Gaza after 10-day closure

Ahram Online, Sunday 9 Mar 2014

Rafah border crossing with Gaza Strip will be open on Sunday and Monday, officials confirm

A bus carrying Palestinian Muslim pilgrims leaves en route to Rafah border between Gaza Strip and Egypt, for the annual hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013 (Photo: AP)

Egyptian authorities on Sunday re-opened the Rafah border crossing with Gaza after a ten-day closure.

Stranded Gazans wishing to travel to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage are being allowed to pass through the border, an Egyptian official told state news agency MENA. 

Returning pilgrims have been waiting in Egypt for several days, a Gazan official told Palestinian news agency Maan on Saturday.

The opening would be for two days starting on Sunday, the official added.

The Rafah crossing is the only border with Hamas-run Gaza that is not controlled by Israel.

It is the first time the border has been opened since an Egyptian court imposed a temporary ban on Hamas' activities inside the country.

The relationship between Hamas, an ideological offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Egyptian authorities have soured since the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi, a senior Brotherhood leader.

Egyptian officials have accused Hamas of providing support to Islamic militants in the Sinai Peninsula since Morsi's ouster. Hamas has repeatedly denied any such involvement.

Tensions have been exacerbated by Egypt's campaign to destroy tunnels providing vital gas and food supplies to 1.7 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which has been under Israeli siege since 2007, as well as frequent closures of the Rafah border crossing.

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