Egypt closed its only crossing with the besieged Gaza Strip on Monday evening after a five-day opening to allow humanitarian cases through.
Ministry of Interior in Gaza Strip spokesman Iyad al-Bizm told Ma’an that Egyptian authorities had stopped the influx of people trying to leave the blockaded Palestinian territory through the Rafah crossing, while keeping it open for people entering Gaza, According to Palestinian local agencies.
The Palestinian official said that 3,099 people left Gaza during the five-day opening, including 546 Egyptian passport holders.
Al-Bizm said that the humanitarian crisis was worsening in Gaza, and called on Egypt to extend the opening of the crossing.
The short reprieve from heavy border restrictions comes as Israel’s military blockade of the Gaza Strip approaches nearly a decade. Gaza’s 1.8 million residents continue to struggle to meet their basic needs due to severe constraints on goods coming in and out.
While the Egyptian border has remained the main lifeline for Gazans to the outside world, Egyptian authorities have slowly sealed off movement through the border since democratically-elected president Muhammad Morsi was toppled by the Egyptian army in 2013.
Egyptian authorities have kept the Rafah crossing virtually sealed since a terrorist attack in the Sinai Peninsula in October 2014, though they have temporarily reopened the crossing several times since that specific attack, the last time being in early June.
Due to the constraints on Palestinian movement through the crossing, many are commonly barred from leaving or entering the Gaza Strip, some for months at a time, as the crossing is only periodically opened by Egyptian authorities, stranding Palestinians on both sides of the crossing during closures.
In 2015, the Rafah crossing was closed for 344 days. The crossing has been reopened on a more regular basis in 2016.
Most recently, 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.