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Rafah crossing into Gaza reopens after shutdown

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2011-06-08

The Rafah border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip reopened Wednesday after a disagreement between Egypt and Hamas led to a four-day closure. Egypt reopened the crossing permanently in May, ending a blockade that had been in place since 2006.

AFP - The Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip was reopened on Wednesday, ending a four-day closure amid disagreements between Egyptian and Hamas officials.

In a statement, the Hamas manager of the border crossing, Ayub Abu Shaar, said the terminal was reopened "after an agreement with the Egyptian side that all the parties agreed to."

"The crossing is operating normally today for both departures and arrivals," he added.

The reopening Wednesday brought an end to a closure that began on June 4, when Egyptian officials halted operations on their side of the border just a week after announcing they would permanently reopen the crossing.

Palestinian officials on the Gaza side said then that they had not been informed in advance that the crossing would be shut, and that their phone calls to the Egyptian side went unanswered.

A crowd of hundreds of Palestinians gathered on the Gaza Strip side, angered by the unannounced closure, and a day later Abu Shaar said the Palestinians would not resume operations at Rafah until clear procedures had been agreed with the Egyptian side.

A senior Hamas official said last week that the Palestinians wanted Egypt to allow more travellers to cross each day, speed up operations at the border, decrease waiting times, and agree on regular operating hours.

Egypt agreed to permanently reopen the Rafah crossing last month, ending its cooperation with a blockade Israel imposed in 2006, after Gaza-based militants snatched an Israeli soldier.

Rafah is Gaza's only border crossing not controlled by Israel, and news of Egypt's decision to reopen it was warmly welcomed in the coastal strip, though Israel strongly criticised the move.

 

Date created : 2011-06-08

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