Egypt Opens the Rafiah Border Crossing with Gaza
Egypt on Tuesday opened the Rafiah border crossing with Gaza, allowing people to travel in and out of Gaza, a border official told the PA-based WAFA news agency.
The official said the border was open to patients, Palestinian Authority Arabs returning to Gaza after performing a mini-pilgrimage to Mecca, and others.
Egypt closed the Rafiah crossing after last week’s terror attack on an Egyptian border security checkpoint in Sinai that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers. A report last week indicated that the terror group Army of Islam is behind the terror attack. Army of Islam is an Al-Qaeda inspired Gaza-based terrorist group that wishes to see Gaza run by Muslim Sharia law.
Hamas has been pressing Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi to open up Egypt’s border with Gaza. Hamas’ Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, publicly asked Morsi to do so in a public appearance last month.
Senior Hamas official Salah Bardawil announced on Sunday that his movement would agree to close all the tunnels along the border between Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula, provided that Cairo officially and permanently opens the Rafiah border crossing for traffic.
Bardawil said that the tunnels are “a means the Palestinian people need to deal with the security fence around Gaza and to deal with the blockade.” He added that closure of the tunnels, which are often used by Gaza-based terrorists to smuggle weapons and terrorists to and from Sinai, can only be done if the Egyptian side agrees to permanently open the Rafiah crossing for transfer of goods and people.
It is believed that the terrorists who carried out last week’s attack likely entered Egypt through the smuggling tunnels. After the attack, Egypt began to seal off the smuggling tunnels.