Egypt opens Gaza border for two days


GAZA CITY: Egypt opened its largely sealed border with the Gaza Strip on Friday for two days, Palestinian authorities said.

In just the third such opening this year, the crossing between the Palestinian enclave and Egypt’s Sinai region will be open Friday and Saturday for humanitarian cases, the Palestinian embassy in Cairo said.

The Rafah crossing is the only exit for Gaza residents except into Israel, but Egypt has largely sealed it in recent years, citing security threats.

Egyptian authorities have a poor relationship with Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas, whom they have accused of supporting attacks inside Egypt.

Both of the two previous border openings this year were cut short due to the security situation in Sinai.

The Egyptian army and police forces are engaged in a fierce conflict with armed Islamists, especially in the North Sinai governorate where an Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State is active.

Hundreds have been killed on both sides.
For more than a decade, Israel has imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza that critics say amounts to collective punishment of the coastal territory’s two million Palestinian residents.

Israel says the blockade is necessary to isolate Hamas, with which it has fought three wars since 2008.

Egypt has also kept the Rafah crossing largely closed for several years.

In October, Egypt brokered a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah, the party of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, that was supposed to see the Islamists give up power in Gaza.

But the deal has collapsed, with the two Palestinian groups trading blame.

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