Friday, December 14, 2018

Egypt re-opens Rafah Checkpoint in Gaza for Ramadan


By Henry James - May 21, 2018
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After Monday’s massacre, where Israel killed 60 Palestinian protesters and injured more than 2400, the Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made the rare decision to open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza for the entire holy month of Ramadan to help 'ease suffering.’

On his official Twitter account, the Egyptian leader said the opening of the crossing would “alleviate the burdens of brothers in Gaza.”
 
The first Gazans who lined up from 5 a.m. on Friday May 18 were let through into Egypt eight hours later, at 1 p.m according to Reuters.
 
It is the first time in years the border has been reopened for a month in a row. The last long opening lasted three weeks in 2013. Usually, Palestinians are only able to cross for a few days a year.
 
Border officials have said the crossing at Rafah will be open until the end of Ramadan for sick and elderly Palestinians, as well as students enrolled in foreign universities or those who have family in Egypt.
 
Rafah checkpoint is the only way out for Palestinians living in Gaza wishing to travel abroad which is not controlled by the Israeli Army.
 
The relations between Egypt, and Israel and Hamas, has given to Cairo an important role in facilitating tension between the two sides and taking away the pressure on the two million Palestinians living in Gaza.
 
A blockade has been imposed by Israel since more than a decade on Gaza, arguing that it is necessary to isolate Hamas with which the IDF has fought three wars since 2008.
 
47 percent of the population living in Gaza is suffering from food insecurity according to United Nations. An emergency summit of the Pan-Islamic body was held in Istanbul this Friday.
 
At the same time, at the Israeli checkpoint in Bethlehem, Palestinians were crossing from the West Bank to the first Friday prayers of Ramadan at Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. Some Palestinians were stopped to be checked and returned back. For those who make it through the first check, they then needed to pass through second search with heavy metal detectors.
 

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