Egypt opens Gaza crossing for the first time in two months

Officials check Palestinians' documents before crossing to the Egyptian side in Rafah, Gaza (Mustafa Hassona - Anadolu Agency)

Middle East Monitor  /  February 1, 2021

Egypt today reopened the Rafah crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and the North African nation in both directions for four days.

According to a press statement issued by the Gaza Interior Ministry, the first batch of passenger buses passed the Rafah border crossing this morning, for the first time in two months.

“The ministry allowed patients, students, Egyptian and foreign passport holders, as well as those who have residency documents to travel through,” the statement added.

The Ambassador of the State of Palestine in Cairo and its Permanent Representative to the Arab League, Diab al-Louh, thanked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his government for their efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people.

In cooperation with the Ministry of Health, the Interior Ministry will conduct covid tests for all travellers, the statement noted.

This comes after the Israeli Ministry of the Interior announced border crossings closures last week between Israel and Jordan and Egypt to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Israel has imposed an 13-year siege on the Gaza Strip which Egypt has supported by closing its border with the enclave. People, goods and even basic amenities such as food and gas are restricted, leaving Palestinians in Gaza suffering with only a couple of hours of electricity a day and with no access to the outdoor world.

Twafiq Abu Naim, the undersecretary of the Interior Ministry, told reporters at the Rafah crossing that his ministry hopes that the border would be opened continuously in order to alleviate the suffering of those in Gaza and Palestinians stranded in Egypt.

“The humanitarian cases, students as well as those who need to travel have suffered a lot when the Rafah border crossing was closed,” he said, calling on the Egyptian authorities to keep the gateway open all the time.