Egypt Opens Gaza Border Crossing But Movement Slow

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Rafah Crossing open for eight hours a day as Hamas facilitates transfer of critical medical emergencies

Hamas authorities are assisting thousands of Palestinians to leave the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing to Egypt, but “movement is very slow,” a senior official told the Londonbased Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

“The crossing is open for eight hours per day, but the actual working hours are only four, during which people can move to the Egyptian side. The Egyptian side leaves the gates open in order for those who are not given access [to Sinai] to return [to Gaza],” Maher Abu Sabha, director of Gaza’s Department of Crossings, told Asharq al-Awsat.

Abu Sabha said his department is operating on an emergency basis to facilitate the transfer of critical medical cases. Even though the crossing is technically open, “it is akin to being closed.”

“Movement is very slow,” Abu Sabha said, adding that the situation depended on the cease-fire talks in Cairo.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry has repeatedly said that the border with Gaza at the Rafah crossing remains open, despite media reports claiming it is closed with exceptions only granted for humanitarian or aid transfers.

“Since Israeli attacks commenced, Egypt has been adamant in keeping the Rafah crossing open continuously and exceptionally to allow for the passage of people and humanitarian aid convoys and to receive the wounded,” the ministry said, Ahram Online reported on Sunday.

Some 7,500 people, as well as more than 1,200 tons of medical aid and food, passed through the crossing, it said, adding that claims that Egypt closed the border are “in complete contradiction to facts on the ground.”

“Egypt cannot open it for free passage for men and merchandise, because it is a security hazard,” former ambassador to Cairo Zvi Mazel, a fellow at The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

Source : i24news