Egypt opens Gaza crossing for four days

Egypt opens Gaza crossing for four days
2 min read
17 August, 2015
Egyptian authorities have opened the Rafah border crossing with the blockaded Gaza Strip for four days, giving priority to the students and the sick.
Palestinians in Gaza have endured a siege imposed by both Egypt and Israel. [Getty]

Egypt has opened its border with the Gaza Strip for the first time in two months.

The Rafah border crossing opened Monday for four days, allowing Palestinians to travel in both directions.

Crossing director Khaled al-Shaer says some 20,000 people have applied to exit the coastal strip. Gazans seeking medical care and students are among those expected to cross.

Rafah is Gaza's only gateway to the outside world with no Israeli control.

Egypt has kept it mostly closed since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.

The closure worsened after Egypt's military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood member, in 2013. Hamas is an offshoot of the Brotherhood.

The crossing has been opened for a total of just 15 days this year.

Palestinian border official Khaled al-Shaer told Anadolu Agency on Saturday that the Egyptian authorities had informed their Palestinian counterparts that the Rafah crossing would be opened to passengers - in both directions - for a four-day period from Monday to Thursday.

"The border will be opened for students, medical patients and those carrying foreign residence permits and foreign passports," al-Shaer said.

The Egyptian authorities also announced last week that the Rafah crossing would be opened for a three-day period starting 7 September to allow Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to perform the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. 

The blockade of Gaza has deprived the coastal territory’s roughly 1.9 million inhabitants of most basic goods, including food, medicine and building materials. 

A devastating bombardment led to more than 2,000 people dead - mostly civilians - 18,000 homes destroyed or severly damaged, and more than 100,000 homeless. Most building material to reconstruct or repair homes have been denied access by Israel.

Oxfam reported that at the current rate of construction it would take 100 years for the reconstruction of Gaza.