Under intense international pressure, Egypt has temporarily opened the Rafah border crossing, allowing those with permits to cross into the Gaza Strip.
The impoverished enclave, which has been under a crippling Israeli-imposed blockade for nearly two years, experienced momentary relief on Sunday when it opened for a scheduled three-day period.
However, according to the state-run Egyptian Al-Ahram daily, only Palestinians with travel plans and visas for foreign countries, along with patients in need of medical care would be allowed out of the strip.
Although opened sporadically, the Rafah border crossing, Gaza’s only crossing point which bypasses Israel, has largely remained shut since 2007.
Despite being under constant pressure from international bodies including the United Nations to permanently open Rafah, Cairo has kept a tight rein along the border, assisting Tel Aviv in maintaining the costal sliver under siege.
Egypt, on occasions, has even gone so far as to order its border guards to shoot Gazans who attempt to seek refuge on its soil.
The siege of Gaza has been the source of recent protests, planned to coincide with the anniversary of Israel’s 22-day offensive in the Strip.
During the weekend, thousands of demonstrators in Cairo, Tel Aviv, Gaza and London rallied for "Freedom and Justice in Gaza," repeating reference to Israel as an apartheid state.
They also urged the ban on the entry of "Viva Palestina" humanitarian convoy to be lifted.
The long-delayed aid convoy was forced to take a detour and go to Syria, after Cairo denied the convoy entry through the Red Sea port of Nuweiba, the most direct route from Jordan where the convoy was stalled.
The third international convoy, which departed from London on December 5, is made up of international volunteers who have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds in their local communities to pay for ambulances, minibuses, vans, and lorries to fill them with medical and other aid, desperately needed in Gaza.
Battered by months of an Israeli-imposed blockade and coupled with an all-out Israeli strike, which left over 1,400 Palestinians killed and thousands of others wounded, the Gaza Strip is faced with a dire ‘humanitarian catastrophe.’
Gaza hospitals are left with insufficient medical supplies, and as a result many patients have lost their lives, sparking an outcry among the Gaza sick.