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Egypt to temporarily open Rafah crossing amid Gaza healthcare crisis Open in fullscreen

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Egypt to temporarily open Rafah crossing amid Gaza healthcare crisis

The Rafah crossing is a lifeline for the besieged Gaza strip [AFP]

Date of publication: 8 February, 2018

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Egyptian officials and the Palestinian embassy in Cairo confirmed the opening of Gaza's main gateway to the outside world.
Egypt has opened its border with the besieged Gaza Strip for the first time this year, Egyptian officials said.

The two officials said on Wednesday the Rafah crossing point would operate for three days on a humanitarian basis. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorised to brief the media.

The Palestinian embassy in Cairo confirmed the opening of Gaza's main gateway to the outside world.

Thousands of Gaza residents are on travel lists — most of them medical patients, students and holders of residency permits of other countries. Only a few thousand will make it out in the time allotted.

The announcement comes amid warnings that Gaza’s healthcare system is facing a crisis.

UK-based medical charity Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) warned on Tuesday that the healthcare system in the Gaza Strip is on the brink of "total collapse" and needs urgent action from the international community if it is to survive its current crises.

The United Nations Office for the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) have launched an emergency appeal for funding, warning that Gaza is on the "verge of disaster", with emergency fuel stocks only able to sustain critical health, water and sanitation services for the next ten days. 

Israel has maintained a crippling siege of the Gaza Strip for more than a decade which it says is necessary to isolate Hamas, with whom it has fought three wars since 2008.

Human rights groups say it amounts to collective punishment of Gaza's two million residents.

Gaza needs around 500 megawatts of power a day but receives less than half of that, meaning residents receive only a few hours of mains electricity per day.

Egypt has kept Rafah mostly closed since Hamas took over the territory in 2007.

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