Gazans waiting to cross into Egypt through Rafah crossing
Gazans waiting to cross into Egypt through Rafah crossingAbed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Egypt opened its largely sealed Rafah border crossing with Gaza on Saturday, AFP reported.

The Hamas-run interior ministry, which was organizing departures from Khan Yunis, said the crossing would stay open for four days but, in the Egypt direction, and for humanitarian cases only.

Those cases include people needing medical treatment unavailable in Gaza as well as students enrolled at Egyptian universities and Gazans with jobs abroad, according to the announcement.

This is the first time that Egypt has opened the crossing since a reconciliation deal between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and their longtime rivals Fatah was reached in October.

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 crossingseveral times since that attack, mostly for the passage of humanitarian cases.

Egypt 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.

The crossing was supposed to reopen for three days soon after the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal was reached, but Egypt cancelled the opening following an Islamic State (ISIS) attack in northern Sinai which claimed the lives of six Egyptian soldiers.

Up to 20,000 Gazans have applied to enter Egypt, far more than are able to cross during the brief openings, according to the Gazan interior ministry.

Some 200 people passed through on Saturday morning, 10 of them medical cases, it added.