Gaza, Egypt border opens for two days, reportedly for VIPS

Among those reportedly crossing were MP's and other political figures as well as academics.

October 15, 2016 17:10
1 minute read.
Rafah border crossing

A Gaza woman waits at Rafah for a travel permit to cross into Egypt, June 14.. (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)

The Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt opened on Saturday, according to  Palestinian news outlet Ma'an. The gate was set to be open for two days.

Gaza's Ministry of Interior reportedly said that Egypt informed Gaza it would open Saturday just this past Thursday. The gate was set to be open for humanitarian cases as well as what was described as "stranded people."

The New Arab contradicted the reports stating that the gate was in fact being opened to allow VIP's in Gaza to attend a conference in Egypt sponsored by the government.

Among those reportedly crossing were MP's and other political figures as well as academics.

According to al-Ahram the newspaper of the Egpytian government, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi ordered the gate be opened for humanitarian cases.

The gate was last opened for five days in late June and early July according to a July 17 report by Gisha, an Israeli NGO and legal action center dedicated to freedom of movement.

During that time, 4,581 people crossed the border with 2,961 exits from Gaza to Egypt and 1,620 entries from Egypt to Gaza. Exits were only permitted to medical patients, students registered for studies in third countries, foreign passport holders and individuals with residency status abroad, or “special coordination.”

Gisha also reported that since the beginning of 2016, the Rafah Crossing has been open for a total of only 14 days. In 2016, the average number of crossings per month has been 1,896, compared to 40,816 per month in the first half of 2013 when the crossing was in more regular operation.

This crackdown on crossings was due to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's rise to power, according to Al Jazeera. The Egyptian president severely restricted the crossing due to his suspicion that Hamas, the ruling body in Gaza, is an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt declared a terrorist organization in 2013.

Palestinians are paying up to $10,000 in bribes to Egyptian border officials to escape the Strip, Gazan bribe brokers told Al Jazeera in September.

Erez Crossing into Israel, the only other way out of Gaza, is severely restricted by the Israeli government.

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