Egypt opens Rafah crossing for 3-day period
Published Saturday 29/03/2014 (updated) 31/03/2014 15:05
Palestinians wait for relatives coming from Egypt at the Rafah
border crossing between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip on
March 9, 2014 (AFP Said Khatib)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- After being closed for several weeks straight with few exceptions, the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip will open on Saturday for special cases, Palestinian sources told Ma'an.
Egypt will allow medical patients, students, and foreign nationals to travel through the Rafah crossing in both directions starting Saturday and until Monday, Palestinians working at the Egypt-Gaza border said.
More than 6,000 Palestinians have submitted travel applications since the terminal shut shut down in February, Gaza government officials told Ma'an.
The officials said the applications would be processed in the order they were received.
On Tuesday, Filippo Grandi, head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency urged Egypt to let 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. The only other crossing for people out of Gaza is at Erez, which leads to Israel.
Many Gazans travel through Rafah to seek medical treatment outside of the impoverished Strip.
After former Egyptian president Mohamed 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."
AFP contributed to this report.