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Egypt reopens Gaza crossing as Israel eases restrictions

Members of Palestinan security forces stand guard at the closed off Rafah border crossing to Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 23, 2021 (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
Members of Palestinan security forces stand guard at the closed off Rafah border crossing to Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 23, 2021 (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Egypt partially reopens the Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip, allowing one-way traffic into Palestinian enclave, as Israel eases import restrictions.

Rafah, Gaza’s only gateway to the outside world not controlled by Israel, was shuttered on Monday by Egypt, which gave no reason for the move.

But it came after Gazans on Saturday staged protests and violent riots along the border with Israel. A Palestinian rioter was killed, dozens of others were injured and an Israeli soldier was in critical condition from a gunshot wound.

Egypt, a key mediator between Israel and Hamas, has previously used Rafah closures as a punitive measure against the Gaza rulers.

Late Wednesday, Hamas’s interior ministry announced that Rafah would open to incoming traffic on Thursday and to two-way traffic on Sunday.

People had begun to cross after midday, an AFP journalist says.

The Israeli military branch responsible for civil affairs in Palestinian territories (COGAT) says more goods would be allowed to enter Gaza from Thursday, including “equipment for international civilian projects” and new vehicles, among other measures, it says in a statement.

Israel also agrees to boost by 1,000 the number of merchants allowed through its Erez crossing to Gaza.

“The civilian measures approved by the political echelon are conditional upon the continued preservation of the region’s security stability, while further expansion of these measures will be examined in accordance with a situational security assessment,” COGAT adds.

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