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Egypt to open Rafah crossing for entire month of Ramadan

May 18, 2018 1:29 P.M. (Updated: May 21, 2018 1:31 P.M.)
CAIRO (Ma'an) -- Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi has reportedly issued an emergency order to open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip for the entire Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began in Palestine on Thursday.

Egyptian security sources confirmed the opening to Ma’an, saying that the crossing is being opened in order “to speed up sending wounded Palestinians to Egypt for treatment.”

Thousands of Palestinians have been injured and over 100 killed by Israeli forces since the “Great March of Return” bean on March 30th, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

Sources added that 618 Palestinians traveled through Rafah between Thursday evening and dawn on Friday.

Egyptian authorities reportedly allowed the entry of 57 truckloads of different goods into Gaza, including 37 cement trucks, six trucks of diesel, four power engines, four trucks of foodstuffs, five trucks of iron and four Egyptian Red Crescent trucks carrying medications and food.

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.

According to the United Nations, during 2016, the crossing was partially opened for only 44 days. In 2015, the crossing had only been open for 21 days.

The decade-long Israeli blockade has plunged the Gaza Strip’s two 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 to warn that Gaza could be “uninhabitable” by 2020.

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