ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 145

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Hamas: Gaza-Egypt crossing to reopen

Rafah blockade to be eased for 3 days, starting Saturday, after 50-day closure

Members of Hamas' security forces standing guard in front of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip, September 16, 2013. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/SAID KHATIB)
Members of Hamas' security forces standing guard in front of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip, September 16, 2013. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/SAID KHATIB)

GAZA CITY — Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas announced Wednesday that the blockaded territory’s border with Egypt would open after a 50-day closure, telling Palestinians wishing to travel to present their passports.

Egypt has severely restricted access through the crossing in the border city of Rafah since July, when the army deposed Hamas’s ally, president Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The crossing will reopen for three days starting Saturday, Hamas’s interior ministry said.

Filippo Grandi, head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) urged Egypt Tuesday to allow people through Rafah, saying only a handful of Muslim pilgrims had been allowed across over seven weeks.

He also called on Israel to ease its blockade of the territory, imposed in 2006.

Many Gazans travel through Rafah to seek medical treatment outside of the impoverished Strip.

Israel controls the only other personnel crossing at Erez.

After Morsi’s overthrow, the army destroyed hundreds of tunnels under the border that brought in construction materials and fuel. That caused the Strip’s worst ever energy crisis, with power outages of up to 16 hours a day.

This month, Hamas described the Rafah closure as a “crime against humanity,” and the UN criticized it for its effect on “the civilian population, including patients awaiting medical treatment.”

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