Egypt to Open Rafah Crossing for Pilgrims, after Five Months of Closure

At the Rafah crossing at the Gaza-Egypt border. (Photo: via Mondoweiss)

Egyptian authorities have decided to open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip from Monday until Thursday next week to allow the passage of Muslim pilgrims traveling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj, Palestinian sources reported on Wednesday.

Spokesperson of the borders committee in Gaza Hisham Adwan said that Egyptian authorities had decided to open the crossing for four days next week in order to allow 2,500 Palestinians to leave Gaza for Egypt in order to take a flight to Saudi Arabia for Hajj — an annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

Next week’s opening of the Rafah crossing will mark the first time the crossing has been opened for more than five months, according to Israeli NGO Gisha, which has been the longest time the crossing has been closed since the start of the year.

Gisha reported that some 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza approved for travel have been waiting for the crossing’s opening, including students, those waiting to meet relatives outside of the territory, and those needing medical treatment outside of Gaza.

“After a decade of closure, which has failed entirely in achieving its objectives, and even once Israel announced that it would ease restrictions on exiting and entering Gaza, freedom of movement for residents of Gaza has only declined and the closure has only tightened,” the group stated.

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.

(Maan, PC, Social Media)

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