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

Egypt on Tuesday opened the Rafah border crossing with Gaza "indefinitely", a security source told AFP.

"This isn't a routine or normal opening. This is the first time in years that the Rafah border crossing is opening indefinitely," the source said, adding, "It used to open only three or four days at a time.”

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.

Tuesday’s opening of the crossing came on the second day of talks between Palestinian factions in Cairo aimed at clearing the way for the first PA elections since 2006.