Saturday, June 4, 2011

Egypt restricts Rafah crossing to pedestrians

Palestinians seeking to cross into Egypt through the Rafah crossing were initially stopped by Egyptian officials on Saturday, before they were allowed to cross on foot

Source: Press TV

After initially keeping the Rafah border crossing closed on Saturday, Egyptian officials have allowed pedestrians to cross into Egypt from the Gaza strip but preventing vehicles from crossing.

Hundreds of people were moved back as the Saturday passage was one way, AFP reported.

Earlier on Saturday, a week after the crossing was permanently reopened, the Egyptian officials closed down the border. Hundreds of Palestinians seeking to enter Egypt were faced with a locked gate, Ayub Abu Shaa, head of the Hamas police unit at Rafah said.

A security source in Egypt initially said the crossing was closed for works which should have been completed on Friday and efforts were underway to allow through Palestinian buses.

Enforcing the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, the regime of the ousted, US-backed ruler, Hosni Mubarak, had refused to open the Rafah crossing since June 2007 despite its full sovereignty over the area.

The former Egyptian regime was under pressure from the public and some Arab countries for refusing to open the crossing even during the Israeli deadly offensive into Gaza in 2008, in which nearly 1,400 people lost their lives.

The three-week Israeli offensive deteriorated the already dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza as many civilian infrastructures were knocked out during the invasion.

Gazans have since faced harsh conditions with minimal supply of food, water, fuel, and electricity.

The reopening of Rafah is likely to rattle the Israeli regime, which had earlier expressed its concerns about Egypt's plans to reopen the crossing.

The UN has called the siege illegal and repeatedly demanded it being lifted.

The new Egyptian government has been keen to review its policy on Gaza since Mubarak was overthrown in February.

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