499 people cross Rafah border crossing Wednesday
Palestinians await travel permits to cross Egypt-Gaza Rafah‏ - REUTERS
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CAIRO: A total of 499 Palestinians crossed the Egypt-Gaza border crossing of Rafah over 14 hours Wednesday in both directions; the crossing will remain open for three more days, Youm7 reported an Egyptian official at the crossing as saying Thursday.

Those who crossed the border were Palestinian patients, passengers, students, and dual citizens, the official added on condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to brief the media. He clarified that 397 passengers crossed into Gaza, while 102 others crossed into Egypt.

Meanwhile, 35 trucks loaded with construction materials sent by the Egyptian Arab Contractors Co. were allowed into the strip, the official continued.

The border crossing opened Wednesday for four days in both directions, announced the Palestinian embassy in Cairo Tuesday in a statement.

The crossing was opened upon instructions from Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, after his latest meeting with his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas, the statement added.

Sisi and Abbas met on May 9, and discussed the means of reviving the stalled peace negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Both sides agreed to re-open the border for two days on May 11 and 12.

During the two- day opening, 742 people crossed into Egypt while 1,217 crossed back to Gaza. A total of 21 Palestinian prisoners who served terms in Egypt were extradited to the authorities in Gaza, Youm7 reported May 13. Meanwhile, forty trucks loaded with construction materials and food goods crossed into Gaza.

The crossing was only opened exceptionally a few times since a major militant attack in North Sinai’s Sheikh Zewuid that killed some 27 military personnel in October 2014. The Egyptian authorities have said in a number of occasions that Hamas is implicated in the attacks.

The Gaza Strip has six border crossings with Israel and only Rafah crossing was the only entrance gate for the Palestinians in the strip since Israel has imposed blockade on the strip in 2007. So many of Palestinians be stranded in Egyptian airports and other Palestinian patients could be stranded in Gaza waiting for the border reopening for receiving medical care in the Egyptian hospitals.

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