Egypt reopens Rafah crossing with Gaza

Military gives Palestinians access to the Sinai after closing border in mid-September amid Islamist terror threats

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

An Egyptian army watchtower on the Rafah border with the Gaza Strip, July 2013. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
An Egyptian army watchtower on the Rafah border with the Gaza Strip, July 2013. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The Egyptian army on Saturday reopened the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt after closing it last week due to security threats in the Sinai Peninsula.

Hamas officials said that 300 Palestinians, some of whom are in need of medical treatment, are expected to enter Egypt, AFP reported.

The Egyptian army did not specify how long the crossing would remain open.

Last week, Israel allowed construction materials for use by private builders to enter the Gaza Strip for the first time in six years.

Israel banned the entry of building materials intended for the private sector into the Gaza Strip following the violent takeover of Hamas in June 2007, citing concerns that such materials could be diverted for terrorist purposes.

The closure on the Strip was eased significantly in 2010 at the behest of the International Quartet, and in late 2012 Israel began allowing in 20 trucks of gravel a day for private construction projects. The new decision will allow Palestinians to import 70 trucks a day of gravel, metal bars and cement.

According to Hamas officials, nearly 130 smuggling tunnels have been shut down by the Egyptian Army in the past few months as well. The officials added that the damage to Gaza’s economy as a result of the tunnels’ closing is estimated at around a quarter of a billion dollars.

The Egyptian crackdown on Gaza’s smuggling tunnels intensified greatly following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi, an ally of the Hamas regime in Gaza, on July 3. According to some estimates, up to 90 percent of Gaza’s once-thriving smuggling industry has been destroyed by the Egyptian army.

Elhanan Miller contributed to this report

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