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Middle East

Egypt reopens Gaza crossing for three days

Following a 50-day closure, the land crossing is limited to those seeking medical treatment, students and foreigners.

Last updated: 29 Mar 2014 13:28
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UNRWA head Filippo Grandi has urged Egypt to let civilians cross from Gaza [Reuters]

Egypt has reopened its land border with the Gaza Strip after a 50-day closure, but only for three days and then just for special cases, Gaza's governing group Hamas has said.

Passage to Egypt will be limited to those seeking medical treatment, students going to their places of study, foreigners and in cases deemed as humanitarian, according to Hamas's interior ministry.

A busload of Palestinians heading for Egypt was the first vehicle through the crossing in the city of Rafah, which is also open to traffic in the opposite direction.

Egypt has severely restricted access through the crossing since July, when the army deposed Hamas' ally, President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

On Tuesday, Filippo Grandi, head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency [UNRWA] urged Egypt to let people through Rafah, saying only a handful of Muslim pilgrims had been allowed across over seven weeks.

He also called on Israel to ease its eight-year blockade of the territory. The only other crossing for people out of Gaza is at Erez, which leads to Israel.

Many Gazans travel through Rafah to seek medical treatment outside of the impoverished Strip.

After Morsi's overthrow, the army destroyed hundreds of tunnels under the border that brought in construction materials and fuel, causing the Strip's worst ever energy crisis, with power cuts of up to 16 hours a day.

This month, Hamas described the Rafah closure as a "crime against humanity", and the UN criticised it for its effect on "the civilian population, including patients awaiting medical treatment.

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Source:
AFP
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