Egypt to open border with Gaza ahead of Muslim holiday
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Egypt to open border with Gaza ahead of Muslim holiday

In humanitarian gesture, Rafah crossing to open for 5 days before Eid al-Fitr, allowing Palestinians to enter, leave blockaded territory

In this June 13, 2015, photo, Palestinian travelers present their passports and documents to Palestinian border officers as they wait to cross to the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing, in the southern Gaza Strip. (AP/Adel Hana)
In this June 13, 2015, photo, Palestinian travelers present their passports and documents to Palestinian border officers as they wait to cross to the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing, in the southern Gaza Strip. (AP/Adel Hana)

Egypt will open its borders with the Gaza Strip for five days starting Wednesday, allowing Palestinians to enter and leave the coastal strip ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

The Rafah Border Crossing between the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip will be open in both directions, Palestinian media reported Monday, citing the Hamas-run interior ministry in Gaza.

The opening of the crossing is seen as a humanitarian gesture by Egypt for the holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan. According to reports, the opening is aimed at serving humanitarian and emergency cases.

The move would be the third opening in as many months after Cairo had shuttered the border for 85 days.

Both Israel and Egypt maintain a partial blockade on Gaza. Israel says it restricts entry of certain materials into the territory to keep Hamas and other terror groups from being able to build weapons and cross-border tunnels.

Egypt has kept its border with Gaza mostly sealed since Hamas seized control of the Strip in 2007. The closure worsened after Egypt’s military ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood member, in 2013. Hamas is an offshoot of the Brotherhood.

Egypt claims that Hamas in Gaza is helping Sinai jihadists, both by treating casualties from the battles in Sinai against the Egyptian army and with arms. Hamas is also affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement that has been outlawed in Egypt.

Along the Israel-Gaza border, tensions have flared earlier this year as IDF troops working to uncover attack tunnels reaching into Israeli territory have come under mortar fire from Gaza, drawing Israeli reprisal attacks.

AP contributed to this report.

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