Egypt to Open Rafah Border Crossing for 5 Days

The Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip — in both directions — for five days starting Wednesday, the Gaza Strip’s Hamas-run Interior Ministry said Monday, Anadolu Agency reported.

“We have been informed by the Egyptian side that they will open the crossing for five days from Wednesday to Monday, except on Friday,” Gaza’s border crossing authority said in a statement.

The Egyptian government opened the Rafah crossing for four days during the first week of June ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, during which time more than 3,000 people left the Gaza Strip — mostly medical patients and students — to enter Egyptian territory.

According to the border authority, the number of Gazans now waiting to cross stands at some 28,000, most of whom seek medical treatment abroad or who are studying at universities overseas.

The announcement came hours after Israel and Turkey officially established normalization of diplomatic relations, an agreement that included Israel’s approval of Turkish humanitarian aid and plans for Turkish-led infrastructural projects in the coastal enclave, which has been decimated by a near decade-long Israeli blockade and three Israeli offensives.

The long periods of closure at the Rafah crossing — Gaza’s only point of access to the outside world not under Israeli control — have brought the enclave’s roughly 1.9 million inhabitants to the verge of humanitarian catastrophe.

The nearly nine-year Israeli blockade has plunged the Gaza Strip’s more than 1.8 million Palestinians into poverty. The destruction from three Israeli offensives over the past six years and slow reconstruction due to the blockade led the UN in September to warn that Gaza could be “uninhabitable” by 2020.