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Middle east

Rafah border briefly open to allow passage

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-06-29

The Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt was opened temporarily on Saturday to allow more than 100 patients, students and visa holders to leave the Hamas-ruled territory. Officials say passage will be allowed for three days.

AFP - The Rafah crossing with Egypt was opened on Saturday to allow more than 100 patients, students and visa holders to leave the besieged Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, an official at the crossing said.
   
The crossing was to remain open for three days, the official added.
   
Israel has sealed Gaza off from all but vital humanitarian aid and has strictly limited movement into and out of the territory since the Islamist Hamas movement seized power in June 2007.
   
Egypt has largely complied with the restrictions, though it occasionally opens Rafah -- the only Gaza crossing that bypasses Israel -- to allow aid in and students and medical cases out.
   
The sanctions have crippled rebuilding efforts in the impoverished territory of 1.5 million people, which was devastated by an Israeli offensive at the turn of the year in which 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.
   
In a surprise visit to the crossing Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya said he hoped to see its "complete" re-opening.
   
"We are prepared and ready (to operate the crossing) according to arrangements undertaken with our Egyptian brothers, the Europeans, (Abbas's) presidential guard and the (Hamas-run) government," he added.
   
Egypt has consistently rejected pressure to open its border with the Gaza Strip permanently, insisting it can only do so when the authority of the Western-backed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has been restored.
   
An international agreement signed by Israel and Abbas's Palestinian Authority in 2005 provided for EU monitoring of all traffic across the border and the installation of Israeli security cameras.
   
But Hamas has rejected any Israeli presence at the crossing.
 

Date created : 2009-06-27

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