The Egyptian authorities decided to open the Rafah border crossing in both directions from Wednesday to Saturday for the travel and return of citizens and to facilitate the entrance of “humanitarian cases”.
The border’s main gate was also opened recently on 8 February for three days to allow holders of residence permits for Egypt to enter. The opening process is usually administrated in cooperation with Palestinian authorities.
The border officially closed on 24 October 2014, following attacks on the Qarm Al-Qawadis checkpoint by the militant group “Sinai Province”. The attack resulted in the deaths of at least 33 military personnel. Since then, the crossing has been opened in exceptional cases only.
Egyptian authorities have, for the most part, kept the Rafah border crossing shut down since July 2013. They launched a campaign to destroy the illegal, underground tunnels that have been vital in supplying Gaza’s residents with food, medicine, fuel, and building materials.
Another method used by the Egyptian army is flooding the tunnels—a method often condemned by the Hamas movement, the quasi ruler of the Gaza Strip.
Last November, Hamas handed over the Rafah crossing on the border between Gaza and Egypt to the Palestinian Authority as part of the reconciliation agreement between the two Palestinian sides.Egypt brokered and concluded the reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas on 12 October, after a series of meetings in Cairo. The two sides are expected to continue discussions on upcoming presidential and legislative elections, the crisis of resources in Gaza, and the security situation.