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Egypt Temporarily Opens Gaza Border

Egypt Temporarily Opens Gaza Border

Saturday, 16 December, 2017 - 12:45
Palestinians wait with their luggage to cross the border into Egypt, at the Rafah crossing border in the southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Khalil Hamra, AP

Egypt temporarily opened its largely sealed border with Gaza on Saturday for only the second time since the Palestinian Authority took control of the Rafah crossing from Hamas.

The Hamas-run interior ministry, which was organizing departures from the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Yunis, said the crossing would stay open for four days but, in the Egypt direction, for humanitarian cases only.

Up to 20,000 Gazans have applied to enter Egypt, far more than are able to cross during the brief openings. 

Some 200 people passed through on Saturday morning, the ministry said. Those include people needing medical treatment unavailable in Gaza as well as students enrolled at Egyptian universities and Gazans with jobs abroad.

Rafah is Gaza's only border crossing not controlled by Israel.

Hamas handed control of the Gaza side to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority on November 1 as the first part of an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal designed to end a bitter decade-long split.

That was supposed to have been followed by the handover of full civil control in Gaza by December 1. But the target date was missed amid differences over the future of tens of thousands of civil servants recruited by Hamas since it seized control of the territory in 2007.

Egypt opened the border for three days last month -- the first time it had done so since the reconciliation deal.

Prior to that the crossing had been open for just 14 days this year, according to the Hamas-run interior ministry.

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