Egypt to Allow Aid into Gaza – Not Clear for How Long

Egyptian officials quoted as saying the Rafah crossing will be opened for aid convoys entering Gaza, but versions differ on how long.

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Gil Ronen, | updated: 16:47

Crossing into Egypt (file)
Crossing into Egypt (file)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Egyptian officials were quoted Tuesday as saying that humanitarian aid convoys will be allowed to enter Gaza from Egypt at Rafah (Rafiach), in a move that comes as a response to the IDF raid on a ship carrying armed sympathizers of terror group Hamas.

As of Tuesday afternoon there were different versions of the story being circulated by international news agencies. It appears probable that the move is a temporary one and that free traffic of individuals and anything but aid supplies will not be allowed.

According to Associated Press, the governor of northern Sinai, Murad Muwafi, said that President Hosni Mubarak ordered the opening of the Rafah crossing “for several days,” temporarily lifting Egypt's blockade of Gaza “to allow aid into the area.”

Muwafi said Egypt wants to "alleviate the suffering of our Palestinian brothers after the Israeli attack" on the ship, in which nine terror sympathizers were killed after violently resisted IDF forces.

Reuters, meanwhile, quoted an unnamed Egyptian security source as saying that "Egypt opened its border with the Gaza Strip on Tuesday to allow humanitarian and medical aid to enter the Strip” and that the border “will remain open for an unlimited time."

However, according to this report, only only food and medical supplies could be transported through the crossing. The source said Egypt would not allow "hard materials” – apparently including concrete and steel – to pass into Gaza.

A third version of the story, circulated by pro-Arab Israeli-based newspaper Haaretz, said that people would be allowed to cross from Gaza into Egypt for medical treatment.

While Israel has come under intense international pressure for its partial blockade of Gaza, Egypt's blockade of Gaza is in fact stricter. While Israel allows aid into Gaza every week, Egypt has kept its border with Gaza sealed for most of the three years since Hamas took over power there.