Egypt to keep Rafah crossing with Gaza open for a month

CAIRO: Egypt will keep the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip open for a month, marking the longest period in years that the gateway to and from the economically battered enclave has been accessible.
“I instructed concerned agencies to take the necessary measures to keep the Rafah border crossing open throughout the holy month of Ramadhan in order to ease the burden on the brothers in the Gaza Strip,” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi announced.
The border has been open since Saturday. It was scheduled to be opened temporarily for four days before it was extended.
“This is an important and encouraging step by Egypt and I hope that the security situation will allow for a more regular movement,” said United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov.
“Not only will Rafah’s extended opening contribute to de-escalating the explosive atmosphere in the Strip, it will also help ease the humanitarian burden on Palestinians in Gaza,” Mladenov added.
Previously, Egypt would open the crossing for three consecutive days from time to time, allowing only medical patients, students and those with permits for Egypt to cross.
The opening of the crossing declined following an increase in deadly attacks in the Sinai peninsula.
A reconciliation agreement between rival Palestinian faction Fatah and Hamas in October sparked hopes that the Rafah crossing would reopen under control of the Palestinian Authority government, but the agreement faltered amid a worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza. — dpa