The Palestinian Authority on Monday urged the Egyptian authorities to allow humanitarian cases to leave the blockaded Gaza Strip, saying the Rafah crossing has now been closed to such cases more than 100 straight days.
The PA committee for crossings and borders said in a statement that the crossing had only been open for 19 non-consecutive days this year.
It was last opened for three days at the beginning of September and again for one day later that month so as to allow Palestinians to take part in the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca.
However, the PA committee said that no humanitarian cases were allowed to leave the beleaguered coastal enclave through that period.
The border crossing was last open to Palestinians seeking medical treatment on Aug. 21, concluding a period of four days during which 2,579 humanitarian cases were able to leave.
Iyad al-Buzm, a spokesperson for Gaza’s Hamas-run interior ministry, said at the time that some 17,000 Palestinians still urgently needed to leave the territory, either as humanitarian cases or to continue their studies abroad.
Al-Buzm had previously referred to the situation as a “human catastrophe,” warning that the continued closure of the Rafah crossing threatened the lives of hundreds of patients in urgent need of operations.
The Rafah crossing is the primary lifeline to the outside world for Gaza’s 1.8 million residents, but has been severely restricted by the Egyptian authorities over the past year, largely due to a militant insurgency in the northern Sinai Peninsula.
The Egyptian government has in the past accused Hamas of assisting the insurgency, although Hamas strongly denies the allegations.
Egypt has done little to alleviate Israel’s eight-year blockade on the Gaza Strip, which has severely restricted imports and exports into the territory and denied Gazans’ freedom of movement.