Saturday, 26 May, 2018

Egypt keeps Gaza border crossing open for Ramadan

Egypt opens Gaza border for Ramadan after protesters killed Egypt opens Gaza border for Ramadan after protesters killed
Patty Aguilar | 18 May, 2018, 16:22

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has taken the rare decision to open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza for the entire holy month of Ramadan after Israel killed some 60 Palestinian protesters in the enclave this week.

"In order to alleviate the burden of our brothers in the Gaza Strip, I have instructed the relevant authorities to open the Rafah border gate throughout Ramadan", al-Sisi said on his Facebook page.

Egyptian authorities opened the border crossing from Saturday to Tuesday but then made a decision to keep it open until further notice citing humanitarian concerns for two million Palestinians stranded in Gaza, which has been under Israeli blockade since Hamas took control in 2007. Previously, Egypt would open the crossing for three consecutive days from time to time, allowing only medical patients, students and those with permits for Egypt to cross.

Previous openings of the crossing have been cut short by violence in the Sinai peninsula, or with authorities giving other reasons.

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The Rafah border crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Egypt has been nearly completely closed since Al-Sisi overthrew his predecessor in a military coup in July 2013.

Sisi's announcement comes after some 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire on the Gaza border earlier this week.

Rafah is the main exit for the 1.9 million Palestinians in the Strip to the outside world since Israel imposed a land, sea and air blockade on the besieged territory more than a decade ago.

But critics argue it amounts to collective punishment of the enclave's residents, with 47 per cent suffering from food insecurity according to United Nations figures.

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