More than 3,600 people cross through the Rafah border

Published August 19th, 2015 - 12:30 GMT

After two days of opening the Rafah border crossing in both directions, 3,639 people have gone through the land crossing, either entering or exiting the besieged Gaza strip.

Egyptian authorities decided earlier this week to open the crossing in the two directions for four days, from Monday to Thursday.

On Tuesday, 1,759 people used the border crossing, state-run news agency MENA reported. Citing an official source, MENA said they include 712 people entered Egypt 1,047 left Egypt for Gaza.

A similar number of people used the crossing on Monday, when 1,880 people crossed in both directions. They include 505 who came to Egypt, while the rest used the crossing to enter the Strip.

Gaza, which shares a border with Egypt, is home to 1.8 million people and is currently recovering from destruction caused by 50 days of Israeli military operations last summer.

More than 1,200 tonnes of construction material were admitted to the strip on Monday, through the Rafah land crossing to meet the needs "for reconstruction projects," MENA reported.

According to figures by the United Nation's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), around "18,000 housing units were destroyed or severely damaged" during the Israeli bombardment of the strip in July and August 2014.

Last October, Egypt and Norway co-hosted a donors conference on the reconstruction of the Strip, raising around $5.4 billion. However, the international efforts to raise money for reconstruction have had little effect on the ground.

In December, Egypt said the donations were unpaid as a result of the "international community’s lack of trust in a permanent solution to halted indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas."

The densely populated Gaza strip is run by the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), which took over the strip in 2007.

Gaza has been under siege since then and the border crossing is currently the strip's main exit and entry point.

Egyptian authorities have largely kept the Rafah crossing shut down since October, with exceptions.

The shutdown of the crossing came after militant attacks in Egypt's North Sinai province left over 30 security personnel dead on October 24, 2014, in one of the deadliest militant attacks in Egypt since a wave of insurgency surged in mid-2013.

The decision to open the crossing for these four days comes at the request of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Embassy in Cairo said in a statement emailed to Aswat Masriya on Saturday.

The move is to "alleviate the suffering" of the Palestinian people in the Gaza strip, the embassy said.


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