Border authorities confirmed on Wednesday that the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip would remain open for a third consecutive day– on Thursday.
Following over two months of closure, several hundred stranded Palestinians were allowed back into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The last time this sole border crossing been Gaza and Egypt was open was on March 10–11, 2015. During these two days, as was the case in the past, border authorities had allowed two-way travel between the Gaza Strip and Sinai.
However, this time around Egyptian border authorities confirmed that a total of 564 stranded Palestinians were only allowed to cross back into Gaza on Tuesday, while the number of those allowed in on Wednesday has not yet been disclosed.
Egypt’s state-owned Middle East News Agency reported that 1,087 tons of international aid and construction materials were also allowed into the Gaza Strip on Tuesday.
This one-way flow of people and goods took placeas the Egyptian Armed Forces announced on May 25 that they had destroyed a total of 521 smuggling tunnels running between Egypt’s northern Sinai Peninsula and Gaza over the past six months.
As is the case with Israel, the ability to travel from Gaza to Egypt is perceived to be more of trickle than a flow. Largely seen as an act of collective punishment against the nearly 1.8 million residents trapped within this tiny Palestinian territory, many Gazans have been protesting on their side of the Rafah border, demanding the right to travel, work, access healthcare, and continue their educations abroad, as well as being able to make pilgrimages to Mecca.
Cairo accuses the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, of aiding jihadis in targeting security forces based in the Sinai Peninsula.
Moreover, the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has accused Hamas of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which were ousted in a military-backed uprising on July 3, 2013. Since then, the Sisi regime has been strengthened its power over this densely populated Palestinian territory.
The state-owned Al-Ahram news portal posted a video on Wednesday criticizing demands of a rights activist to uphold human rights for Egyptians and Gazans.
This video including the voice of Said Afifi, the father of one of the conscripts killed in a jihadi attack targeting a security checkpoint in north Sinai, called-in on the talk show Al-‘Ashera Masa’an to comment, “If Sisi authorizes it, I would kill anybody who talks of human rights.”