An Egyptian soldier keeps watch at the closed Rafah border crossing, between southern Gaza Strip and Egypt November 6, 2014. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa An Egyptian soldier keeps watch at the closed Rafah border crossing, between southern Gaza Strip and Egypt November 6, 2014. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Egypt to open Rafah Crossing for 3 days

Wed, Feb. 7, 2018
CAIRO – 7 February 2018: Egyptian authorities announced on Wednesday the opening of the Rafah Crossing in both directions for three days, starting from February 7, to allow the passage of humanitarian cases.

The decision came amid tensions in the Middle East after U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement to recognize Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel instead of Tel Aviv, a decision which has attracted a huge regional and international backlash, criticizing the decision as “unilateral” and not serving the sake of the peace process. The last time the border was opened was in December 14 for four consecutive days.

Egypt has been playing a key role in the reconciliation process between the rival movements Fatah and Hamas. In October 2017, a reconciliation agreement was signed in Cairo between them.

Rafah Border Crossing is one of the most important crossings between Egypt and Gaza which was formally under Gaza authorities’ control.

This Crossing is mainly specialized for individual movements across borders, and it was being prepared for goods transfer between the two courtiers. The Rafah crossing border's importance increased after the Israeli forces had destroyed the Yasser Arafat International Airport in 2001; which was the only airport allowing Palestinians to travel.

On November 2, 2017 about seven borders in Gaza have been handed over to the Palestinian National Reconciliation Government after a long period of conflict between Fatah and Hamas that severely affected their capability to negotiate their cause internationally.

However, after the reconciliation conducted between Fatah and Hamas under Egypt's sponsorship in October, several things have changed as the Palestinian factions announced their unity.

Rafah Border Crossing might be considered as one of the most important crossings in Gaza, but there are several other crossings which were handed to the Palestinian National Reconciliation Government.

The Erez (Bait Hanon) Crossing is under Israeli auspices as the only direct border crossing that allows individuals to cross directly into the West Bank without going through Egypt or Jordon.

The crossing, located north of the Gaza Strip, is almost completely closed since the Gaza authorities have controlled it instead of the national government; no one crosses this border without being granted permission by Israel and submitting to security checks.

The Karni Crossing is located in the north-eastern end of Gaza, and is the largest crossing in the Strip. It is usually used for transporting merchandise between Palestine and other countries as it accommodates approximately 220 trucks per day. However, since the Gaza authorities controlled it, the Karni Crossing has been witnessing a semi-complete closing.

The Sofa crossing is located in east Rafah and known to be one of the smallest crossings in the strip; it is controlled completely by Israeli authorities and has been closed for a long period of time.

The Nahal Oz Crossing, also known as Al-Shaga'ia crossing, is one of the most important crossings for fuel transportation; usually closed by Israeli authorities since the Gaza authorities assumed control over it.

The Kerem Shalom Crossing operates occasionally as an alternative to the Rafah Crossing since it is located near the Egyptian-Palestinian-Israeli borders. It is used mainly for trade movements between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

The Al-Karara (Kissufim) Crossing is located east of Khan Yunis and Deir al-Balah and is designated mainly for Israeli military action. It is usually used by tanks and military vehicles whenever Israeli authorities announce plans to invade the Gaza Strip.

On September 17, Hamas movement announced the dissolution of the administrative committee in the Gaza Strip, inviting the Government of National Reconciliation to assume its duties and hold general elections. The movement affirmed it would comply with the Social Reconciliation Accord signed in 2011.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that there is no country as vital to the Palestinian cause as Egypt due to its historical and political position in the region. “Egypt has an opinion, a position and an interest in the Palestinian cause,” said Abbas.

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