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Egypt to Open Rafah Crossing for Ramadan

Egypt will open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza for the entire Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the longest period of time since 2013, President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi announced on Twitter.

Rafah Border Crossing File Photo (REUTERS)

El-Sissi wrote on his official Twitter account that the opening would “alleviate the burdens of the brothers in the Gaza Strip.”

The announcement late Thursday comes just days after Israeli forces shot and killed 59 Palestinians and injured more than 2,700 during mass protests along the Gaza border.

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Monday marked the deadliest day of cross-border violence in Gaza since a 2014 war between Israel and the militant Islamic group Hamas, which rules the territory. Capping weeks of protests, about 40,000 Gaza residents descended on the border area. The high number of wounded has overwhelmed the Gaza health system.

Al-Sisi said in televised comments earlier this week that Egypt has been communicating with Israel and the Palestinians in an effort “to stop the bloodshed.” He urged Israel to “understand that the Palestinian reactions are legitimate and they should handle it very carefully.”

The crossing has been open since Saturday so el-Sissi’s announcement is technically an extension and Egyptian authorities said 510 people crossed on Wednesday, the majority coming from Gaza into Egypt.

On Thursday, 541 people crossed from Egypt into Gaza along with dozens of trucks carrying cement, steel, power engines and medical and food aid from the Red Crescent, the officials said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

In 2007, Hamas wrested control of Gaza by force, provoking the Israeli-Egyptian blockade that severely restricted the movement of most of Gaza’s 2 million inhabitants.

The Rafah crossing is Gaza’s main gate to the outside world but has only had sporadic openings since the 2013 ouster of Egypt’s elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, a high-ranking member of Hamas’ parent group, The Muslim Brotherhood.

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Written by PH

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