Egypt reopens Gaza crossing for first time in a month
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Egypt reopens Gaza crossing for first time in a month

Government official indicates it will only be temporary; people will only be allowed to enter, not leave

Illustrative photo of Palestinians waiting at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip on June 17, 2014 (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of Palestinians waiting at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip on June 17, 2014 (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

CAIRO — Egypt reopened the Rafah border crossing with Gaza on Wednesday for the first time since its closure in late October after a bombing in the Sinai Peninsula, officials said.

The crossing, which is the only access point to the Palestinian territory not controlled by Israel, will open for four hours on Wednesday and Thursday, a government official said.

“The crossing is being opened for two days to help traffic mainly from Egypt to Gaza,” the official said, suggesting that for now, the reopening was only temporary.

An AFP correspondent on the Palestinian side confirmed the terminal had been opened but said he saw nobody crossing into southern Gaza during the first hour it was operating.

It was not immediately clear whether Palestinians stranded outside Gaza had been informed in advance of Cairo’s plans to reopen the crossing.

Palestinian officials said the terminal was operating in only one direction — allowing people in but not out.

“This measure only applies to those who are stuck outside of Gaza and wish to return and not to Palestinians who want to leave Gaza,” Maher Abu Sabha, director of border crossings in the Gaza Strip, told AFP.

The United Nations says more than 3,500 Palestinians have been stranded on the Egyptian side since the crossing was closed after a suicide attack killed 30 soldiers in North Sinai on October 24.

The attack, in an agricultural area northwest of provincial capital el-Arish, was the deadliest assault on Egyptian security forces since the army deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

The closure of the crossing has also prevented thousands of Gazans from accessing medical treatment or higher education in Egypt and beyond, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in its latest report.

During the first six months of the year, when the crossing was closed for a total of 22 days, an average of 6,400 people crossed each month, it added.

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