Egypt opens Gaza border crossing for 4 days ahead of Ramadan

Egyptian authorities have agreed to open the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip, allowing for a two-way flow of people and goods for a period of four days ahead of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which is due to begin on June 6.

The state-owned Nile News satellite channel confirmed on Wednesday that the Rafah border crossing would be open for four days from June 1-5, with the exception of Friday, June 3.

The Rafah border is the only crossing point through which an estimated 1.9 million Gazans may pass to or from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Under the administration of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the border has remained closed for most of the year.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance reported that the Rafah border was only opened for a total of 37 days between October 2014 and October 2015.

Authorities from Gaza’s Interior Ministry told Nile News that priority for cross-border travel would be given to medical patients, study abroad students, holders of Egyptian and other foreign passports, along with stranded family members.

A reporter from the privately owned Al-Ghad Satellite Channel commented that there are 30,000 individuals who remain stranded between the borders of Gaza and Egypt, including 5,000 medical patients, more than 4,000 students and 7,000 holders of foreign passports.

The reporter claimed that over 1,000 individuals passed across the border from Gaza into Egypt on Wednesday.

A Gaza-based Facebook page which monitors the openings, closures, and flow of traffic through the Rafah border crossing reported on Wednesday that a delegation from the World Health Organization was allowed through into Gaza to inspect the conditions of medical patients and other stranded travelers seeking to cross.

Rafah Crossing News also reported that several ambulances were allowed into Sinai from Gaza, along with buses filled with stranded travelers. Photos were posted showing truckloads of Egyptian cement being allowed into the besieged Gaza Strip. Much-needed medicine and humanitarian supplies were also transported into Gaza ahead of the month of Ramadan.

The last time that Egypt authorized the opening of the Rafah border was three weeks ago, for a period of two days, from May 11-12.

In the company of her young children, a Gazan woman seeking to make the journey commented on Al-Ghad Channel, “Find a solution. We civilians are the ones paying the price.”

Along with Egypt’s closure of the only official border crossing with Gaza, Egyptian authorities have destroyed hundreds of smuggling tunnels in and out of the densely populated Palestinian territory over the past three years.

Egypt’s Armed Forces have attempted to create a buffer zone with the Gaza Strip by demolishing a number of tunnels and displacing thousands of Egyptian residents in Rafah.

In its report dubbed “Look for Another Homeland,” Human Rights Watch asserted that 3,255 residential, commercial and community buildings were destroyed in Rafah between July 2013 and August 2015, resulting in the displacement of thousands of local residents.


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