Cairo to open Rafah crossing for Palestinians stuck in Egypt

Egypt had planned to open the crossing for 3 days, but unexpectedly closed it early, leaving Palestinians stranded.

February 19, 2018 17:28
1 minute read.
A girl sleeps as she waits with her family to cross into Egypt at the Rafah border crossing

A girl sleeps on a suitcase as she waits with her family for a travel permit to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing. (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)

Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah crossing on Monday to allow Palestinians stuck in Egypt to return to the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian Authority official said.

Dozens of Palestinians in Egypt have been waiting for 10 days to cross back into Gaza. They were originally scheduled to return to the Strip on February 9, after Egypt announced it would open Rafah from February 7 through 9, however, Egypt unexpectedly closed the passageway early on February 9, forcing them to wait until it reopens.

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“The crossing will be open for one day in one direction to allow the return of the Palestinians in Egypt,” Nazmi Mahana, the PA official in charge of overseeing border crossings, said in a phone call on Monday.

Since the ousting of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, Cairo has seldom opened Rafah. The crossing was open for 42 days in 2016 and for 36 days in 2017, according to Gisha, an Israeli NGO that tracks human-rights issues in Gaza.

Palestinian officials have said that Egypt frequently shutters the crossing because of the unstable security situation in the Sinai.

Israel also controls a pedestrian crossing with Gaza. While the country allows people to pass through it daily, it heavily limits the number of people who have access to it.

The IDF holds that the restrictions are in place for security purposes.

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