Egypt to close Rafah crossing until further notice

Egypt will close Rafah crossing until further notice on Monday, citing security reasons.

Elad Benari ,

Palestinian Arabs protest at the Rafah border crossing
Palestinian Arabs protest at the Rafah border crossing
Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Egypt will close the Rafah crossing on its border with the Gaza Strip until further notice on Monday, Egyptian security sources said on Sunday, according to Reuters.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said it had been informed by Egypt of the decision to shut the crossing in both directions, without giving details.

According to two Egyptian security sources, the closure was made for security reasons following an escalation on Saturday between Israel and Hamas, with Israeli aircraft striking sites in Gaza after gunfire across Gaza's border with Israel earlier in the day.

Egyptian authorities had kept the Rafah crossing virtually sealed since a terrorist attack in the Sinai Peninsula in October 2014, though they have temporarily reopened the crossing several times since that attack, mostly for the passage of humanitarian cases.

Egypt has kept the Rafah crossing closed as it blames Hamas terrorists for providing the weapons for the lethal 2014 attack, which killed 30 soldiers, through one of its smuggling tunnels under the border to Sinai. Hamas denies the allegations.

In 2019, Egypt decided that the Rafah crossing will be open in one direction only, for people wishing to cross from Egypt into Gaza. The decision was made after the Palestinian Authority withdrew its staff from the crossing due to clashes with Hamas.

The PA took control of Rafah in November 2017, as part of a reconciliation deal with Hamas. The deal, however, has never been fully implemented due to what has been described as “obstacles” between the sides.