Gaza border crossing remains open for medical patients, students, stranded Palestinians
Palestinians residing in the Gaza Strip wait for a travel permit to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing. (AFP/Said Khatib)
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Egypt reopened its border with the Gaza Strip on Saturday to allow medical patients and Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side to cross, officials said.
“The Rafah border crossing was opened Saturday to allow medical patients to depart and allow stranded Palestinians in,” the Gazan border authority said in a statement.
More than 1,200 Palestinians including medical patients, students enrolled in foreign universities and foreign residency holders left the Palestinian enclave, which is under blockade by Israel, on Wednesday and Thursday. Egypt has said it will also open the crossing on Sunday.
Since the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in a 2013 military coup, Egypt has kept the border with Gaza mostly sealed.
In 2015, the Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing for 21 days to limited traffic, according to Gaza’s Interior Ministry.
Last month, the ministry announced that some 30,000 Gazans were waiting to cross the border, including 4,000 seeking medical treatment abroad.
The long periods of closure at the crossing - Gaza's only means of access to the outside world not under Israeli control - have brought the territory’s 1.9 million inhabitants to the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe.
Hamas, which has governed Gaza since 2007, has consistently urged Egypt’s post-coup authorities to open the border on a permanent basis.
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