Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza
Rafah border between Egypt and GazaFlash 90

Egypt’s Rafah border crossing with Gaza will open from Monday to Thursday for Palestinian Arabs seeking to return to the Gaza Strip, the PA embassy in Cairo said on Sunday, according to Egypt’s Al-Ahram newspaper.

In a statement posted on the embassy’s official website, the PA envoy to Cairo, Diab Allouh, thanked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and the Egyptian authorities for their “constant and tireless efforts to alleviate the burdens on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.”

The Rafah border crossing is the main gateway to the outside world for around two million Gazans.

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 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 March, Hamas, which controls Gaza, said it would allow only patients requiring urgent medical treatment to cross into Egypt or Israel.

The latest opening of the crossing comes amid the coronavirus pandemic which has affected Gaza. At least 13 cases of the virus have been recorded in the coastal enclave so far.

The first cases of COVID-19 in Gaza were reported in late March. Before that, local authorities declared a new set of precautionary measures amid concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus in the coastal enclave.

Hamas has closed schools, mosques and wedding halls and banned large street gatherings to halt the spread of the virus, but has not moved to impose a lockdown on Gaza’s 2 million residents, saying it was not yet necessary.