CAIRO, Egypt – Egypt has opened its border with the Gaza Strip to allow citizens of the Palestinian enclave access to the outside world after nearly three months of closure.
Egyptian officials said Wednesday that the Rafah crossing would remain open for 48 hours, saying the move came in response to a request by the Palestinian Authority which is based in West Bank but represents Palestinians on major issues.
Reports said, however, that only a few thousands of nearly 30,000 people on a waiting list could cross Rafah after 85 days of closure. That included mostly patients, students and holders of residency permits in third countries.
“I have been waiting for several months to get a chance to have advanced cancer checks in Cairo,” said Umm Ahmed, a 55-year-old Gaza resident, urging Egyptian officials to open the crossing on more occasions.
At least 90 Palestinians from Gaza, who were designated as stranded in third countries, reportedly arrived at the Cairo International Airport to use the snap opening of Rafah and pay a visit there. Officials said another 120 Palestinians were expected to land later.
“You never know when the crossing will be open, so if you want to come and visit your family at home, you should be prepared to risk your job,” said a Gaza merchant who does business in the Persian Gulf.
Egypt says the closure of Rafah, Gaza’s only access to the outside world, will continue as Cairo still suspects Gaza’s ruling Hamas plays a role in assisting militants in Egypt’s volatile Sinai region. Hamas has denied any involvement in the militancy, saying the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi seeks to maintain its ties with the Israeli regime through keeping Rafah closed.