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Egypt reopens Gaza crossing

November 26, 2014

The Rafah border crossing to Gaza will be opened temporarily, Egyptian officials have said. More than 3,500 Palestinians have been stranded in Egypt since the crossing was closed following a suicide attack in October.

Rafah border crossing
Image: picture-alliance/landov/Abed Rahim Khatib

Egyptian officials announced on Wednesday that the Rafah border crossing with Gaza would be opened temporarily for the first time since its closure in late October following a bombing in the Sinai Peninsula.

The Rafah border crossing, which is the only access point to the Palestinian territory not controlled by Israel, will open from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. (1000 UTC to 1400 UTC) on both Wednesday and Thursday, a government official said.

"The crossing is being opened for two days to help traffic mainly from Egypt to Gaza," the official added.

According to the United Nations, more than 3,500 Palestinians have been stranded on the Egyptian side since the crossing was closed after a suicide attack killed 30 soldiers in North Sinai on October 24.

Thousands of Gazans have also been prevented from accessing medical treatment or higher education in Egypt and beyond as a result of the closure, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in its November 17 report. During the first six months of the year, when the crossing was closed for a total of 22 days, an average of 6,400 people crossed each month.

Deadliest assault

The attack, in an agricultural area northwest of provincial capital El-Arish, was the deadliest assault on Egyptian security forces since Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown in July 2013.

The assault also prompted the army to launch a military campaign against militants in the Sinai Peninsula, which also borders Israel, and to establish a kilometer-wide (0.62-mile) buffer zone near the border with Gaza.

Wednesday's announcement came as Egypt's president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, began a two-day visit to France where he was due to hold talks with French counterpart Francois Hollande. The meeting was likely to focus on the chaos in Libya as well as bilateral economic cooperation.

ksb/kms (AFP, dpa)