An Egyptian soldier keeps watch at the closed Rafah border crossing, between southern Gaza Strip and Egypt November 6, 2014. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
CAIRO – 23 March 2018: Egyptian authorities announced the opening of the Rafah Crossing in both directions for two days, starting March 23, to allow the passage of humanitarian cases.
Egypt’s government usually opens the Rafah crossing for several days in a row, providing all the needed aid to the Palestinian people and allowing them to cross. The last time the border was opened was on February 20 for four consecutive days.
Rafah border crossing is one of the most important crossings between Egypt and Gaza which was formally under Gazan authorities’ control.
This crossing is mainly specialized for individual movements across borders, and was being prepared for the transfer of goods between the two courtiers. The Rafah crossing border's importance increased after Israeli forces destroyed the Yasser Arafat International Airport in 2001; which was the only airport allowing Palestinians to travel.
Palestinian authorities thanked Egypt for continuously opening the crossing in a statement issued February 21. It stated that the decision represents the government’s keenness to ease the Palestinian people’s suffering.
In another statement issued February 26, Head of Fatah's Central Committee Azzam al-Ahmad assured that his government agrees with the Egyptian authorities, terrorists must not be given a chance to use the crossing in any way to preserve both countries’ stability and security.
The decision however comes amid tensions due to the failed assassination attempt of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on March 13. In an official statement that followed shortly, Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned targeting Hamdallah’s convoy.
It was stated in the statement that Egypt will continue its efforts to achieve the Palestinian reconciliation agreement that was signed last October in Cairo between Fatah and Hamas.
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.
On September 17, Hamas’s 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.
After the failed assassination attempt, however, the reconciliation remains on edge.