Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has reportedly ordered that the Rafah crossing on the border with the Gaza Strip remain open for humanitarian reasons until the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha in late August.
Egypt had already opened the crossing longer than any other time in recent years, after last month it granted access in both directions for the entire month of Ramadan.
On Tuesday, Egyptian security sources, quoted by local media, said people and goods will be able to pass through the crossing for another two months to ease the burden on Gaza’s population.
For years, Egypt opened its sole border crossing with the Gaza Strip only sporadically and for short intervals, as it has fought an insurgency in north Sinai bordering the Palestinian enclave.
Eid al-Adha, or the “Festival of Sacrifice,” is planned to be marked this year by Muslims worldwide on August 21-25, although the exact dates may vary.
Hamas, the Palestinian terror group which rules the Strip, hailed the decision and said that “the residents of Gaza thank President Sissi and call for the Rafah Crossing to remain open.”
Since 2007, Israel and Egypt have enforced a blockade of Gaza, which Israel says is necessary to prevent Hamas from smuggling weapons into Strip. Currently, goods arrive at Israeli ports, where they are screened and then brought to Gaza on hundreds of trucks a day.
Deteriorating living conditions in the Strip have been cited by security officials as a major factor fueling violent clashes on the Israel-Gaza border, as well as a debilitating sense of desperation.
On Monday, Haaretz reported that the United States is seeking to raise over $500 million from Gulf states to fund energy and economic development projects aimed at improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza, as a prelude to revealing US President Donald Trump’s plan for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Times of Israel staff and agencies contributed to this report.