Egypt opens Rafah crossing for stranded Palestinians

GAZA, Nov. 4 – Egypt opened its border with the Gaza Strip on Tuesday to allow stranded patients to leave for medical treatment in its hospitals, said a Hamas spokesman. The Rafah border crossing opened at 8:00 a.m. (0600 GMT) and will remain open for two more days, said Ihab al-Ghussein, spokesman for the Hamas interior ministry.

“So far, 15 ambulance vehicles and four buses, carrying about 200 patients and their companions, have crossed Rafah to the Egyptian side smoothly,” al-Ghussein added.

The total number of people who signed up for traveling exceeded1,000, said al-Ghussein, stressing that only the registered patients and students are allowed to pass.

Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2006 after Hamas captured an Israeli soldier in a cross-border raid. In 2007, Israel tightened the siege and Egypt maintained the closure of Rafah crossing in response to Hamas’ violent takeover of the enclave.

In June, Egypt brokered a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel to ease the blockade in exchange for halting violence. Hamas accuses Israel of not notably easing the sanctions despite the calmness.

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