Egypt re-opens Gaza crossing as Israel eases restrictions

Rafah, Palestinian Territories: Egypt on Thursday partially re-opened the Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip, allowing one-way traffic into Palestinian enclave, as Israel eased import restrictions for the territory it has blockaded since 2007. 

Rafah, Gaza’s only gateway to the outside world not controlled by Israel, was shuttered on Monday by Egypt, which gave no reason for the move.

But it came after Gazans on Saturday staged protests and violet riots along the border with Israel, which killed one Palestinian, left dozens of others injured and an Israeli soldier in critical condition from a gunshot wound.

Egypt, a key mediator between Israel and Hamas who control the coastal enclave, has previously used Rafah closures as a punitive measure against Hamas.

Late Wednesday, Hamas’s interior ministry announced that Rafah would open to incoming traffic on Thursday and to two-way traffic on Sunday.

People had begun to cross after midday, an AFP journalist said.

Border protests and riots on Wednesday in southern Gaza left 20 Palestinians following confrontations with Israeli troops, but the violence was more muted than on Saturday.

Hamas police made efforts to contain Wednesday’s unrest by preventing people from approaching the border fence. – AFP