Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi has made a rare decision to open the Rafah crossing with Gaza for a month, allowing Palestinians to cross during the holy month of Ramazan.
The decision to keep the crossing open was taken “to alleviate the suffering” of residents in the Palestinian enclave, Sisi said on Facebook late Thursday.
The Rafah crossing is Gaza’s only gateway to the outside world not controlled by Israel, but Egypt has largely sealed it in recent years, citing security threats.
The last extended opening lasted three weeks in 2013, while usually Palestinians are able to cross for a few dozen days a year. Previous openings of Rafah have been cut short by violence in the Sinai peninsula or with authorities giving other reasons.
Sisi’s announcement comes after some 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire on Gaza’s frontier earlier this week, with the victims described by Egypt’s foreign ministry as “martyrs”.
A total of 114 Gazans have been killed in border protests and clashes since March 30, in the run-up to the controversial opening Monday of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
Egypt has relations with both Israel and Gaza rulers Hamas, giving Cairo an instrumental role in easing tensions between the two sides and alleviating the pressure on the territory’s 2 million residents.—AFP