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Egypt reopens Gaza border

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 20:19

Gaza: Egypt reopened its Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip Wednesday after seven days of closure, allowing a limited number of people to leave and return to the Palestinian coastal enclave through its main border terminal.

Rafah`s reopening came as Hamas, the Islamic movement that controls Gaza, warned of a medical crisis induced by the frequent closure since the Egyptian army toppled Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, a patron to Hamas, Xinhua reported.

The terminal was last closed Sep 11 following a deadly attack at a military intelligence facility in the Egyptian side of Rafah.

Even when the crossing was open, it operated at less than half of its capacity.

After Rafah`s reopening Wednesday, Egypt allows a daily average of 300 people to leave Gaza, compared to about 1,000 before the ouster of Morsi.

However, "there are 5,000 humanitarian cases registered for travel and we can`t manage to get them all out due to the limited quota each day", said Maher Abu Sabha, director of the Palestinian side of the crossing.

Hamas Minister of Health Mufid Al-Mukhalalati said the frequent closures affected medical supplies to Gaza, as Hamas gets part of its international medical aid through convoys that enter the enclave from Egypt.

"We used to get 30 percent of drugs and medical supplies via Rafah" and about 1,000 Gaza patients used to travel for treatment in Egypt every month, said Al-Mukhalalati, adding that Gaza has run out of 145 kinds of medicine.

Five buses carrying patients and holders of foreign residency permits left Gaza Wednesday three hours after the crossing was opened, a Hamas official said, noting the terminal was open for only four hours every day.

Students wishing to return to universities in Egypt scuffled with the Hamas police, who could only allow travelers in humanitarian cases to pass the crossing Wednesday.
The Egyptian measures, prompted by the rise of insurgency in the Sinai peninsula that borders Gaza, deepened the isolation of the Palestinian enclave from the rest of the world.


First Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 20:19
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