Egypt opens Rafah crossing for 3 days

Egyptian Foreign Ministry tells 'Post' crossing opened bcause of "humanitarian need on the Gaza side."

DFLP rafah 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
DFLP rafah 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing between Sinai and Gaza on Sunday for humanitarian cases and will keep it open at least through Monday, a spokesman at the Foreign Ministry in Cairo said. It was the first time that Egypt opened the crossing to Palestinians since Israel ended its three-week military offensive in the Gaza Strip nearly five weeks ago. "We think there is a need," Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. "It has always been the case. We open the Rafah crossing when we estimate that there is a humanitarian need on the Gaza side." The crossing could remain open on Tuesday as well, depending on the number of individuals in need, Zaki said. Since Hamas routed Fatah forces from Gaza in June 2007, Egypt has opened the crossing "every once in a while" to allow individuals to cross to and from the Strip, he said. Persons considered humanitarian cases include those who need travel to receive medical treatment, to reunite with their families or to study. "Once the situation is resolved, we will be able to allow this particular crossing to function normally, as was the case before the Hamas coup," Zaki said. Whenever Egypt announces that it will open the crossing, people congregate there to present their case to officials, he said. Security coordination takes place with Hamas officials, who control the Palestinian side of the border, Zaki said. Egypt was the subject of intense criticism from countries such as Iran and Syria for not fully opening the crossing during the IDF offensive. Cairo has said it will not fully reopen Rafah without the presence of the Palestinian Authority there, as dictated by a 2005 agreement. The issue of the Rafah crossing, considered one of the most important for Hamas, is among those currently being negotiated in Egyptian-mediated talks between Israel and the Islamist movement for a long-term truce agreement.