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Gaza women protest against 40 days of Rafah crossing closure

March 21, 2014 3:55 P.M. (Updated: May 18, 2014 2:41 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Activists protested in front of the Egyptian embassy in Gaza on Thursday in condemnation of the continued closure of the Rafah crossing, demanding Egyptian authorities open the terminal to allow humanitarian cases through.

Egyptian authorities have kept the crossing -- which has been the principal connection between Gaza's 1.7 million residents and the outside world since the imposition of an economic blockade in 2007 -- largely shut for the last 41 days.

Activists erected a protest tent in front of the embassy ten days ago, urging Egyptian authorities to re-open the crossing. Only two days after the tent was erected, three-year-old Ahmad Ammar Abu Nahl died after he was unable to travel abroad to receive medical care due to the crossing's closure.

"Palestinian women live under difficult conditions in the shadow of the tightening of the siege and the closure of the crossings," Umm Muhammad, an activist at the tent, said.

She also called upon the international community to put pressure on Egypt and demand authorities open all of Gaza's crossings.

The National Committee to Break the Siege called upon Egypt to recognize its "legal and moral responsibility towards the besieged Palestinians in the Gaza Strip," condemning the continued closure of the crossing.

The spokesperson for the committee said that the committee rejected "all of the excuses that have been used to explain the closure of the crossing," adding: "Any political position that does not respect human rights is null and void."

There have been frequent closures of the Rafah terminal in recent months due to political unrest in Egypt and violence in the Sinai peninsula, placing an added burden on Gaza Strip residents.

After the July coup, which deposed president Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's army has repeatedly closed the Rafah border crossing and destroyed hundreds of tunnels that Gazans used for years to import fuel, building materials and other goods.

The joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.
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