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

Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian in southern Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces deployed near the Sufa crossing in the southern Gaza Strip opened fire at and injured a Palestinian Saturday, local sources told Ma'an.

An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the report, telling Ma'an that a "Palestinian suspect approached the security fence" and Israeli forces opened fire at his lower extremities after firing warning shots into the air.

One hit was confirmed, and Israeli forces took the man to a hospital in Israel for treatment, she added.

The spokesperson did not have confirmation if the injured man would be detained after treatment or returned to the Gaza Strip.

Sufa was one of several crossings between Gaza and Israel to be sealed by Israeli authorities in 2007 and was permanently closed in 2009, however is sporadically opened for humanitarian needs, according to Israeli rights group Gisha: Legal Center for Freedom of Movement.

The border area where Israeli forces opened fire Saturday is part of an Israeli-enforced "buffer zone" along the Gaza-Israel border as well as on the western seaside border of the strip. more