Egypt reopens Rafah crossing to Gaza Strip

Egypt reopens Rafah crossing to Gaza Strip
Sat Sep 28, 2013 20:41:40

Egypt has reopened Rafah crossing with the besieged Gaza Strip after a nine-day closure.

Egypt reopened the Rafah crossing with the besieged Gaza Strip on Saturday after a nine-day closure, an official of the Hamas government said.

Gaza border official Maher Abu Sabha said some 5,500 Palestinians, including people seeking medical treatment in Egypt, were demanding to cross at the Rafah terminal.

"We hope that our Egyptian brothers rethink and reconsider and open Rafah crossing completely and allow 5,500 students, foreign residents and patients to cross," Abu Sabha added.

Since former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was deposed on July 3, Egyptian authorities have repeatedly shut down the Rafah border crossing as the military seeks to cleanse the Sinai Peninsula, which borders Gaza, of militants.

Hamas officials have complained that Egypt has limited the number of passengers from 1,200 a day to only 300 since July 3 when the Egyptian military dismissed Morsi, following mass protests against his rule.

Egyptian officials have accused Hamas of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood in the Sinai Peninsula and say the slow operation of Rafah crossing is linked to poor security conditions in the Sinai, where Egypt is fighting militants.

The Egyptian military has been pressing ahead with its assaults on the border area between the besieged Gaza Strip and northern Sinai.

In recent weeks, Egyptian army bulldozers have repeatedly razed trees and small buildings in what many Rafah crossing residents describe as an Egyptian buffer zone along the border with Gaza.

The military has stepped up the destruction of the tunnels on the Egyptian side of the border with the besieged Gaza Strip since removal of the ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.

Many of the tunnels have been destroyed and the army has also issued an evacuation order forcing residents of the border area to abandon their homes.

The tunnels are used to deliver humanitarian supplies and medicine into the Gaza Strip which has been suffering from a strict Israeli-imposed siege for years.

RA/HH

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