Sunday, 21 June 2015

Egypt continues to ease restrictions on Gaza border


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities will re-open the Rafah border for traffic crossing both ways for three days this week, officials say.

The Palestinian Authority was informed of the decision to open the crossing after President Mahmoud Abbas had contacted his Egyptian counterpart on the matter, General Director of the PA's Crossings and Border Department, Nathmi Mhanna told Ma'an.

Mhanna thanked the Egyptian president and Egyptian security parties, emphasizing that the PA is continuing its efforts to ease the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza and hopes the crossing remains open for the duration of Ramadan and after.

The decision was made shortly after Egyptian security sources reported Saturday that the country’s president Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi would soon make decisions towards opening the Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip on a more regular basis.

Sisi opened Rafah during the first week of Ramadan to "ease the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people in Gaza," according to Egyptian border officials.

The border's much-needed opening comes as Egyptian authorities have done little to alleviate Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip, keeping the Rafah crossing -- Gaza's primary connection to the outside world -- virtually sealed since October 2014.

Sustained closures rose amid accusations by Egyptian authorities that Hamas was backing militants who have carried out deadly attacks on security forces in the Sinai Peninsula, allegations Hamas has denied.

Egypt's easing of restrictions have been requested by PA officials and rights groups as Israel's military blockade of the strip nears nine years. more

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