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Egypt to open Rafah crossing for return of Hajj pilgrims to Gaza Strip

Sept. 7, 2017 5:51 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 7, 2017 5:55 P.M.)
(File)
GAZA (Ma’an) -- Egyptian authorities are expected to open the Rafah crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Egypt on Friday to permit the crossing of Palestinians returning from the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

A Palestinian committee said on Friday that 500 Palestinian pilgrims will arrive in Cairo on Thursday night, and will return to Gaza through the Rafah crossing on Friday.

The committee added that the crossing would also be opened from Monday until Thursday next week to permit 3,000 Palestinian pilgrims to return home to the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptian side has not informed the committee whether humanitarian cases would be permitted to travel during the openings at these times.

Many Gazans are prevented from leaving or entering the besieged coastal enclave, sometimes for months at a time, as Egyptian authorities only periodically open the Rafah crossing, stranding Palestinians on both sides of the crossing during closures.

According to the United Nations, the crossing was opened only 44 days in 2016, and 21 days in 2015.

Reports emerged in Israeli media last month that Egyptian authorities could reopen the Rafah crossing on a regular basis in September, following the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, after renovations aimed at “allow(ing) the passage of goods and protect(ing) the crossing against terror attacks” were complete.

However, since Eid al-Adha no further announcements have been made on any regular openings of the Rafah crossing.
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