CAIRO: The Rafah border crossing will open from Tuesday to Thursday both ways for students and “humanitarian cases,” according to a Sunday statement by the Palestinian embassy in Cairo.
The decision was in response to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ request to his Egyptian counterpart during his visit to Cairo earlier in January, according to the statement.
Egypt had announced it would open the crossing Jan. 13, but the decision was canceled after an officer who worked at the crossing was abducted in Rafah Jan. 11, and found dead two days later.
Crossing the Rafah border has been largely restricted after Hamas took over the governance of the strip in 2007; students and holders of foreign passports are those usually allowed in cross into Egypt, Gazans’ only gateway to the rest of the world.
Israel has imposed a siege over Gaza since 2007, largely blocking the four border crossings it shares with Gaza, which are mostly used for cargo.
Egypt’s relations with Hamas significantly deteriorated after the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, and an Egyptian court banned Hamas activities within its territory in March 2014.
Egyptian authorities, which are facing an insurgency in North Sinai, are building a buffer zone along the borders with Gaza, and have destroyed hundreds of tunnels in the process. Some of the tunnels stretch as deep into the Egyptian territory as 1.7 kilometer. The decision to construct the buffer zone followed an attack on a bus of Egyptian soldiers in Arish that killed 31.