Border between Israel, Egypt along Road 12 .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinians who arrive in Egypt without a visa will be allowed to stay in the country for 72 hours, the Egyptian envoy in Ramallah, Yasser Othman, announced Monday.
The announcement came as the Egyptian authorities denied that they have lifted restrictions imposed on Palestinian travelers.
Until now, the Egyptians immediately deported Palestinians who arrived in Egypt without a visa.
In recent weeks, hundreds of Palestinians who arrived in Egypt have been put on planes and sent back to the Gaza Strip or the countries from which they came.
Dozens of Palestinians who fled from Syria were stranded at Cairo International Airport after the Egyptian authorities denied them entry.
Some of the Palestinians were sent back to Syria, while others were escorted to the Rafah terminal on their way into the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian sources.
Palestinians who also arrived from other Arab countries without a visa were detained at the airport before being deported to the Gaza Strip.
Following protests by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the Egyptians decided to change their policy, allowing Palestinian travelers to stay in Egypt for at least 72 hours before they chose their next destination.
Security sources in Cairo denied reports that claimed that the Egyptian authorities were no longer requiring Palestinians to obtain a visa before visiting Egypt.
The sources said that the regulations regarding the entry of Palestinians remain unchanged. They said that all males aged 18-40 still need a visa to enter Egypt, while females are exempt.
According to the sources, the policy at the Rafah terminal also has not changed and Palestinians from the Gaza Strip cannot enter the country without a visa or permission from the Egyptian security authorities.
Palestinians had hoped that the election of Mohamed Mursi as president would lead to a change in travel restrictions.
The Hamas government said that despite promises from the Egyptian authorities, the restrictions have not been eased and Palestinians are still subjected to "humiliating" treatment when they arrive in Egypt. In addition, the Egyptians are continuing to ban many Palestinians from the Gaza Strip from traveling through the Rafah border crossing.