The Egyptian authorities have opened the Rafah border crossing linking the blockaded Gaza Strip and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula for a two-day period in both directions, a Palestinian Authority source said Saturday.
The source, who works for Gaza’s border authority, told Anadolu Agency that the crossing would be opened to limited numbers of Palestinian medical patients, university students and Gazans bearing foreign passports.
A number of Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side of the crossing would also be allowed back into the Gaza Strip, the source added.
Ismail Haniyeh, for his part, a leading member of Palestinian resistance movement Hamas (which has governed the coastal territory since 2007), called on Egypt to open the Rafah crossing on a “permanent basis”.
Earlier this week, Egypt’s official news agency announced that the crossing would be opened on Feb. 13 and 14 on the orders of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.
Since the ouster of elected President Mohamed Morsi in a 2013 military coup led by al-Sisi, Cairo has kept the border with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip tightly sealed for the most part.
According to data released by Gaza’s Interior Ministry, throughout the course of last year, the Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing for only 21 days and to limited traffic.
The long periods of closure at the crossing – which represents Gaza’s only point of access to the outside world not under Israeli control – have brought the coastal enclave’s roughly 1.9 million inhabitants to the verge of humanitarian catastrophe.