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Egypt to open Rafah crossing 'regularly' in September Open in fullscreen

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Egypt to open Rafah crossing 'regularly' in September

The Rafah crossing was only opened for 44 days in 2016 [AFP]

Date of publication: 22 August, 2017

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Palestinians are anxiously awaiting an announcement from Egyptian authorities on the Rafah crossing opening amid conflicting reports about travel restrictions.

Egyptian authorities are expected to open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza strip regularly in September, Israeli media reported on Tuesday. 

The border crossing's opening will follow the completion of renovation work that will upgrade security and facilitate the passage of goods, according to Haaretz

The Israeli daily quoted sources in Rafah as saying that the upgrade work will also include "the installation of a computer system connected to Cairo".

Last week, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar told reporters that the opening of the tightly-controlled crossing would "very likely" happen after Eid al-Adha, which is expected to fall on September 1.

Optimism about freer flows of traffic at the crossing, however, has been balanced by contradicting reports that suggested otherwise.

Last week, the Palestinian director of public relations in Gaza said that Egypt had yet to announce whether the crossing would be opened in September, Palestinian media outlet Falastin al-Youm reported.

Egyptian authorities did announce on Sunday that 240 Palestinian pilgrims will be permitted to travel to Saudi Arabia for Hajj. Prior to this announcement, the crossing was last opened in May.

Due to lengthy closures of the Rafah crossing, many Palestinians on both sides of the crossing are left stranded for months at a time.

Restrictions at Rafah force many Gazans to rely on the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing, however exit permits are often refused.

Earlier this month, Israeli human rights group Gisha reported that the number of exit permits for Gazans has fallen "dramatically" to about half of the monthly number reported in 2016.

In 2016, the Rafah crossing was partially opened for 44 days, according to UN data.

The closure of the crossing has contributed to the blocking off of the coastal Palestinian territory, which has been under blockade by Egypt and Israel for 11 years.

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