PA official: Rafah closed due to security situation in Sinai
Published Tuesday 24/09/2013 (updated) 25/09/2013 14:37
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Security conditions in the Sinai peninsula prevent Egypt from re-opening the Rafah crossing with Gaza, the Palestinian ambassador to Egypt said Tuesday.
Barakat al-Farra told Ma'an that the PA embassy is tirelessly contacting Egyptian authorities over the closure of the crossing, and has received promises that the terminal will be reopened as soon as possible.
"Egypt is interested in easing the suffering of our people in the Gaza Strip, but we have to take into account the security situation in Sinai," al-Farra said.
Gaza pilgrims to Saudi Arabia have been given authorization to cross into Egypt, but the Hamas government has refused to send the passports of guides to the Saudi consulate in Egypt to issue visas, al-Barra said.
PA minister of endowment, Mahmoud Habbash, said that 2,000 pilgrims are due to travel to Saudi Arabia, with the first group leaving next Saturday and the next group on Oct. 2.
There have been frequent closures of the Rafah terminal in recent weeks due to political unrest in Egypt and violence in the Sinai peninsula.
The Rafah crossing has been the principal connection between Gaza's 1.8 million residents and the outside world since the destruction of Gaza's international airport in 2001 and the subsequent air and naval blockade.