Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rafah crossing reopened to Palestinians

Palestinians wait to cross into Egypt at the Rafah border crossing, June 5, 2011

Source: Press TV

The Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip has been reopened after a four-day closure, Hamas officials announce.

The gateway, which is the only point of access to the outside world for Palestinians living in Gaza, was reopened on Wednesday after the Egyptian and Hamas officials resolved their differences, Hamas manager of the border crossing, Ayub Abu Shaar said without referring to the cause of dispute between the two sides.

The Egyptian side halted operations on their side of the border on June fourth amid disagreements with Hamas officials. Cairo had earlier announced that the crossing would be reopened permanently.

"The crossing is operating normally today for both departures and arrivals," Ayoub Abu Shaar said.

The border crossing is an essential entry and exit point for the 1.6 million Palestinians living in Gaza, which has been under a crippling Israeli blockade that restricts the movement of both people and goods, for almost four years.

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.

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

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

The UN has called the Israeli 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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