Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip on Monday morning to allow Palestinian pilgrims to exit the blockaded coastal enclave to perform the Muslim hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia as well as humanitarian cases registered to travel at the crossing.
Gaza’s borders and crossings committee said the crossing would remain open for four consecutive days.
The committee said that some 2,500 residents of Gaza had been granted permission to go to Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca this year, adding that some 800 people were expected to go through on Monday alone.
After 160 days of total closure, Rafah Crossing opens today ONLY for Gaza pilgrims going to Mecca. pic.twitter.com/yIJFPmKCRO
— Palestine Info Center (@palinfoen) August 14, 2017
The crossing was last opened in early May, more than three months ago. The long-term closures at Rafah contradict Egyptian claims made back in March, when sources claimed that Egyptian President Abd al Fattah al-Sisi himself had ordered for Rafah to be opened twice a month in order to lessen the siege on Gaza.
According to the United Nations, during 2016, the Rafah crossing was partially opened for only 44 days. In 2015, the crossing had only been open for 21 days.
Recent unconfirmed reports have suggested that the Rafah crossing will open in September after Hamas reached an agreement with the former Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan, brokered by Egypt.
(MAAN, PC, Social Media)