Egypt on Thursday closed its Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip to all but exceptional cases after opening it to aid and wounded Palestinians during Israel’s war on Hamas.
"The border is closed as of this morning," a border official told AFP, adding that wounded Palestinians being treated in Egypt would still be allowed to return home and some wounded Gazans would still be allowed to enter Egypt
"No humanitarian, media or medical delegations will be allowed through, nor will medical aid deliveries be permitted," the official said, while "foreign delegations" who entered Gaza from Egypt would also be allowed to return.
Egypt allowed aid and medical supplies as well as some doctors and journalists into the Gaza Strip during Israel’s devastating 22-day offensive on the territory which ended with unilateral ceasefires on Jan. 18.
Egypt has refused to permanently open the crossing in the absence of EU monitors and representatives of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas after Hamas ousted his forces from the territory 18 months ago.
Israel, which controls all Gaza crossings except Rafah, has since kept the densely populated territory closed off to all but some essential supplies in order to put pressure on Hamas, which it labels a terrorist organization.
Egypt has been mediating a lasting truce in and around the territory that would satisfy Israel’s demand for an end to smuggling through tunnels from Egypt and Hamas’s demand for the reopening of Gaza’s borders.
Cairo had proposed February 5 as a start date for such a long-term truce, with Hamas saying it would send a delegation back to Cairo on Saturday to give its "final" response to Egypt’s proposal.
According to Iran’s Press TV, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood condemned to decision to re-seal the Rafah border crossing.
Farid Ismail, an opposition deputy in Egypt’s parliament from the Muslim Brotherhood, said Cairo’s insistence not to open the crossing aims to pressure the Hamas, Press TV reported.
(Alarabiya.net and Agencies)