Egypt to open border with Gaza ahead of Ramadan

In humanitarian gesture, Rafah crossing to open for 4 days, allowing Palestinians to enter, leave blockaded territory

Palestinians gather at the Rafah Border Crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, as they await permission to enter Egypt, June 12, 2015. (Flash90/Aaed Tayeh)
Palestinians gather at the Rafah Border Crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, as they await permission to enter Egypt, June 12, 2015. (Flash90/Aaed Tayeh)

Egypt will reportedly open its borders with the Gaza Strip for four days starting Wednesday, allowing Palestinians to enter and leave the isolated coastal strip ahead of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan.

The Rafah Border Crossing between the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip will be open in both directions, the Palestinian Ma’an News site reported Tuesday, citing the Hamas-run interior ministry in Gaza.

The opening of the crossing is seen as a humanitarian gesture by Egypt ahead of the Muslim’s holy fasting month of Ramadan. According to the report, the opening is aimed at serving humanitarian and emergencies cases.

The move would be the second opening in as many months after Egypt 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 in 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 in recent weeks as troops working to uncover attack tunnels reaching into Israeli territory have come under mortar fire, drawing Israeli reprisal attacks.

AP contributed to this report.

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