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Egypt to open Rafah crossing for 3 consecutive days

Jan. 27, 2017 8:49 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 29, 2017 11:14 P.M.)
CAIRO (Ma’an) -- Egyptian authorities are expected to open the Rafah crossing for the next three consecutive days starting Saturday, according to the Palestinian embassy in Cairo.

The embassy said that the decision to open the crossing was a direct order by Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi. Palestinians will be permitted to leave and enter the Gaza Strip while the crossing remains open.

Egypt has upheld an Israeli military blockade on the Gaza Strip since the ousting of former President Muhammad Morsi in 2013 and the rise to power of al-Sisi in Egypt.

While the Egyptian border has remained the main lifeline for Gazans to the outside world, Egyptian authorities have slowly sealed off movement through the border since Morsi was toppled by the Egyptian army.

Due to the constraints on Palestinian movement through the crossing, many Gazans are commonly barred from leaving or entering the besieged coastal enclave, some for months at a time, as the crossing is only periodically opened by Egyptian authorities, stranding Palestinians on both sides of the crossing during closures.

In 2015, the Rafah crossing was closed for 344 days. However, the crossing was opened on a more regular basis in 2016.

The decade-long Israeli blockade has plunged the Gaza Strip’s more than 1.8 million Palestinians into extreme poverty and some of the highest unemployment rates in the world.

Gaza's infrastructure has yet to recover from the devastation of three Israeli offensives over the past six years. The slow and sometimes stagnant reconstruction of the besieged coastal enclave has only been worsened by the blockade, leading the UN in September to warn that Gaza could be “uninhabitable” by 2020.

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