Egypt temporarily opens Rafah border crossing to pilgrimage from Gaza

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Palestinian officials on Sunday said Egypt was opening the gates of the Rafah border crossing for a limited time and limited number of pilgrims from the Gaza Strip. This, in order to allow them to perform pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

This action coincides with the beginning of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Crossing the border into Egypt through Rafah crossing is the main route for Muslims in Gaza to fulfill the Islamic ritual, and officials said 800 of them were supposed to cross the border on Sunday. About 15,000 other Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are waiting to cross to Egypt. Some hold foreign passports, and about 4000 of them wish to leave Gaza to receive medical care.

Rafah border crossing is the only official crossing between 1.7 million Gazan citizens and Egypt. Since the dismissal of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, the Egyptian military has severely restricted crossing at the border with Gaza. Egypt has closed the border for long periods, thus increasing pressure on the population in the Gaza Strip. Egyptian authorities claim Hamas has carried out terror attacks from Gaza to Egypt and meddled in Egypt's internal affairs. Hamas firmly denies these accusations.