Egypt opens Rafah crossing with Gaza for second day

Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Egypt for the second of four consecutive days on Thursday.

The border crossing authority reported that 624 Palestinian left Gaza on Wednesday, while 337 Palestinians arrived into Gaza Strip.

Of the Palestinians allowed to enter the Gaza Strip were seven pilgrims who had been held by Egypt for nearly a month upon returning from the Muslim pilgrimage of Hajj in Saudi Arabia in late September.

The pilgrims had reportedly been detained at the Cairo airport and questioned on their alleged links to militant groups in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities denied entry to 48 Palestinian for unknown reasons on Wednesday.

The Rafah crossing had also been opened on Saturday for two consecutive days to allow passage for humanitarian cases and “stranded people.”

Egypt has upheld an Israeli military blockade on the Gaza Strip for the majority of the past three years, since the ousting of former President Muhammad Morsi in 2013 and the rise to power of President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt.While the Egyptian border has remained the main lifeline for Gazans to the outside world, Egyptian authorities have slowly sealed off movement through the border since Morsi was toppled by the Egyptian army.

Due to the constraints on Palestinian movement through the crossing, many Gazans are commonly barred from leaving or entering the besieged coastal enclave, some for months at a time, as the crossing is only periodically opened by Egyptian authorities, stranding Palestinians on both sides of the crossing during closures.

In 2015, the Rafah crossing was closed for 344 days. The crossing has been reopened on a more regular basis since the beginning of 2016.

The near decade-long Israeli blockade has plunged the Gaza Strip’s more than 1.8 million Palestinians into extreme poverty and some of the highest unemployment rates in the world.

Gaza’s infrastructure has yet to recover from the devastation of three Israeli offensives over the past six years. The slow and sometimes stagnant reconstruction of the besieged coastal enclave has only been worsened by the blockade, leading the UN in September to warn that Gaza could be “uninhabitable” by 2020.

Source: Maan News