Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt disrupted by Israeli air raids

With Israel declaring a ‘total blockade’ of Gaza, crossing with Egypt is the single point in and out of the besieged enclave.

Smoke rises following Israeli strikes in Gaza
Smoke rises from Israeli strikes in Gaza on October 9, 2023 [Saleh Salem/Reuters]

Operations at the Rafah crossing on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt have been temporarily disrupted due to the Israeli bombardment of the besieged Palestinian enclave.

The news agency Reuters reported that the sole crossing point between Egypt and Gaza was partially closed on Monday, citing three Egyptian security officials and a witness.

Reuters reported that two sources said the crossing has since fully reopened with two others saying it has only reopened for humanitarian cases.

The report was filed as Israel carries out a relentless bombardment on the tightly packed Gaza Strip, whose 2.3 million residents are bracing themselves for escalating Israeli assaults. Israel has blockaded Gaza since 2007, leaving Palestinians living there with nowhere to flee.

Earlier on Monday, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant announced a “complete siege” of Gaza, cutting off access to water, electricity, food and fuel. United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply distressed” by the announcement.

“While I recognise Israel’s legitimate security concerns, I also remind Israel that military operations must be conducted in strict accordance with international humanitarian law,” Guterres said.

The continuing Israeli bombardment follows a surprise lightning assault by the armed wing of the Palestinian group Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of Hamas fighters entered Israel from Gaza on Saturday in a multifront attack, killing more than 800 Israelis and wounding thousands of others.

Gaza’s Ministry of Health has reported that 687 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air raids with 3,276 injured since Saturday.

The Red Crescent has delivered some medical aid to Gaza through the Rafah crossing.

Reuters reported that Egyptian authorities have asked Israel to refrain from targeting the border area and to create a safe corridor for civilians, citing two security sources.

A spokesperson with Gaza’s Health Ministry said on Monday that Israeli strikes have targeted hospitals and medical crews and called for a corridor to allow the delivery of medical supplies, depleted by Israel’s 16-year blockade, to the coastal enclave.

“We ask that a [humanitarian] corridor is opened to allow medical supplies to reach hospitals in the Gaza Strip,” the spokesperson said, warning that the situation in Gaza’s medical facilities is critical.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters