Egypt opens border gate into Gaza Strip for three days
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Egypt opens border gate into Gaza Strip for three days

Rafah crossing has not been opened since the beginning of the year; thousands on list waiting to get out, but not all will

Khaled Abu Toameh is the Palestinian Affairs correspondent for The Times of Israel

Palestinians wait to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 16, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Palestinians wait to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 16, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Egyptian authorities have opened the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip for three days, the Palestinian embassy in Cairo announced on Wednesday.

The terminal will be open in both directions, the embassy said.

It was the first time that the border crossing has been opened since the beginning of this year.

Palestinian ambassador to Egypt Diab Al Louh thanked Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi for the gesture. Al-Louh also thanked the Egyptian security authorities for their assistance.

The last time the terminal was open was 50 days ago. During 2017, the terminal was open for a total of 35 days only.

In the past few months, the Egyptians promised more than once to reopen the border crossing, but failed to do so at the last moment.

The border crossing has been almost continuously closed since 2013. Occasionally, the Egyptians opened the terminal for a few days at a time to allow patients to leave the Gaza Strip for medical treatment.

Thousands of Gaza residents are on travel lists — most of them medical patients, students and holders of residency permits of other countries. Only a few thousand will make it out in the time allotted.

Hamas handed control of the Gaza side of the crossing to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority on November 1, as the first part of an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal designed to end a bitter, decade-long split.

That was supposed to have been followed by the handover of full civil control in Gaza by December 1.

But the target date was missed amid differences over the future of tens of thousands of civil servants recruited by Hamas since it seized control of the territory in 2007. Hamas is also refusing to give up its arms and its military wing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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