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

Four buses transporting Palestinian Arabs designated as “humanitarian cases”, in addition to several ambulances carrying injured and sick people, traveled from Gaza into Egypt on Sunday, as Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing for the second consecutive day, the Ma’an news agency reports.

One of the buses had initially attempted to cross on Saturday but was turned back by Egyptian authorities, and successfully made the journey on Sunday, according to a statement from the border committee of Gaza’s Ministry of Interior.

A total of 593 Gazans crossed to the Egyptian side on Saturday, while 494 reached Gaza from Egypt, and 49 Gazans were denied passage by the Egyptian authorities for unknown reasons, according to Ma’an.

Egyptian authorities have 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 specific attack.

Last week, the crossing was opened for three days to allow Palestinian Arabs to cross for the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

According to the Ma’an report, the crossing will also open on Monday to allow 500 Palestinians to cross in order to perform the Hajj pilgrimage.

The reason for the closures of the Rafah crossing is Egypt’s accusations that Hamas terrorists had provided the weapons for the lethal October 2014 attack, which killed 30 soldiers, through one of its smuggling tunnels under the border to Sinai. Hamas denies the allegations.

Hamas was friendly with the Egyptian regime of former President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, but his successor, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has cracked down on Hamas.

As part of the crackdown, Egypt has shut down the smuggling tunnels between Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula and has also built a buffer zone along the border.