Gaza border opening raises Palestinians' hopes

Thousands cross into or out of besieged territory through Rafah crossing after two months of closed borders.

Ezz Zanoun | | War & Conflict, Humanitarian crises, Politics, Palestine, Middle East

For the second day in a row, hundreds of Palestinians have gathered in the southern part of the besieged Gaza Strip with hope of passing through the rarely opened Rafah crossing.

Sunday's border opening comes a day after more than 700 people were allowed to enter Egypt a day earlier, as well as more than 700 others who were allowed to return to Gaza after being stuck in Egypt for months.

Gaza has endured a tight blockade, enforced by both Israel and Egypt, since the Palestinian group Hamas took control of the territory in 2007.

Egyptian authorities open the border only for brief periods every few months, according to Gisha Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement, an Israeli rights group.


READ MORE: Palestinians in Gaza mass for rare Rafah border opening


Egypt has severely restricted entry through Rafah since June 2013, when Abdel Fattah el-Sisi became president following the overthrow of his predecessor, Mohamed Morsi.

The crossing was last opened in early December.

More than 25,000 people have registered to cross Rafah because of urgent needs, including about 3,500 who need to travel for medical purposes, according to a report published at the local Maan News Agency.

Gisha notes that "Rafah crossing was open on 27 days only, with transit out of Gaza to Egypt barred on four of these" during the first nine months of 2015.

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