Saturday, 13 June 2015

Egypt opens Rafah crossing in both directions


The Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing in both directions on Saturday, and is expected to keep the crossing open for the next three days, ministry says. The Gaza Ministry of Interior announced the opening, noting that is was the first time the crossing was opened since Egyptian authorities had allowed Palestinians stuck in Egypt to return to Gaza last month, opening Rafah for one day in one direction. Some 15,000 Gazans registered at the Ministry of Interior are currently waiting to travel via Rafah, including 3,000 patients and more than 2,500 students. The number registered is a fraction of the 1.8 million residents who have remained under the Israeli-imposed blockade since 2007 and struggle to meet their basic needs due to restrictions on goods coming in and out of the strip. Saturday'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 only 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 that borders strip, allegations Hamas has denied. Also in efforts to prevent attacks, the Egyptian army says it has destroyed hundreds of tunnels used for smuggling supplies and arms between Sinai and Gaza, and also used by militants to infiltrate into Egyptian territory. more

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