Rafah crossing to open on Sunday for 2 days
Published Saturday 22/02/2014 (updated) 23/02/2014 14:38
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Gaza Strip Ministry of the Interior said on Saturday that Egyptian authorities had agreed to open the Rafah crossing on Sunday morning in order to allow pilgrims and those stranded in Egypt to travel over the next two days.
The ministry said in a statement that the Egyptian side had informed them of their intention to open the crossing to allow the first batch of three groups of pilgrims to cross en route to Mecca as well as to allow the return of another group of pilgrims.
The crossing, which is the sole connection between the Gaza Strip's 1.5 million inhabitants and outside world, would also open to allow Palestinians currently stuck inside Egypt to return home.
However, there was no indication as to whether Egypt would allow humanitarian cases from the Gaza Strip to cross into Egypt.
The Rafah crossing is currently closed to traffic except for exceptional circumstances, meaning that travel abroad for Gaza Strip residents is only sporadically possible.
The last time the crossing opened was two weeks ago for a period of three days, during which 1,922 people were able to leave Gaza.
Until July of this year, tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt provided a vital lifeline for the territory amidst the otherwise crippling Israeli blockade.
The blockade has been in place since 2006, and it has limited imports and exports and led to a major economic decline and wide-reaching humanitarian crisis.
In the last year, however, the situation had greatly improved, as the tunnels to Egypt witnessed a brisk trade following the Egyptian Revolution.
Since the coup against Egyptian president Morsi in July, however, Egypt has strictly enforced the blockade and targeted the tunnels, destroying more than 90 percent of them.