Egypt partially reopened its border crossing with Gaza Strip on Wednesday, a week after it was closed in response to a deadly attack on an Egyptian military intelligence headquarters near the frontier.
Witnesses said two buses took 100 passengers into Egypt through the Rafah crossing, the main gate to the world for the Gaza Strip’s 1.7 million Palestinians.
Hundreds of other people waited outside the gates for a chance to enter Egypt.
Palestinian Authority officials, the West Bank-based rival of Gaza’s Hamas Islamist rulers, said Cairo agreed to open the crossing for four hours on Wednesday and Thursday at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s request to fulfill the humanitarian needs of patients seeking treatment in Egypt and of students studying there.
Hamas has governed Gaza since 2007 and has an uneasy relationship currently with Egypt’s military, because of their aligned relations with Muslim Brotherhood- especially following the topple of Egypt’s first elected president Mohamed Morsi on July3 after popular uprising in June30.
Since Mursi’s removal, Cairo has shut Rafah gate three times.
Thousands of Palestinians have been stranded in the Gaza Strip for weeks. When Rafah has been open, Egypt has limited the number of passengers allowed through each day to 300 compared with 1,200 before Mursi was removed.
Egyptian authorities last shut Rafah a week ago after assailants crashed two explosive-laden cars into a security building adjacent to the border zone, killing six Egyptian soldiers. The lawless Sinai peninsula has seen frequent battles between the Egyptian military and Islamist gunmen.
Egyptian officials have accused Hamas of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood in Sinai – an allegation the Palestinian group denies – and say restrictions at Rafah were linked to the security situation in the peninsula.
In addition to the clampdown at Rafah, Egypt has been waging a campaign to destroy the network of smuggling tunnels that delivered weapons and goods to the Gaza Strip, which is partially blockaded by Israel.
As a result of such actions, prices for consumer items have risen in the enclave.
Cheap Egyptian fuel is in short supply, with hours-long lines each day at Gaza petrol stations, Israeli fuel is available at double the price of the Egyptian product.