Palestinian parties in the Gaza Strip have called on the Egyptian authorities to reopen the Rafah crossing in North Sinai, as it was before, and to alleviate the suffering of passengers stuck at the crossing.
The parties issued a statement, expressing their astonishment at the suffering of the Palestinians travelling through Rafah: “We wonder about the suffering of our Palestinian people who are returning to the Gaza Strip, the majority of whom are elderly, women, sick and students, and their stay in the bitter cold for several days on their way back to their families and home.” They added: “We affirm that this suffering of our people increases the burden of the travel and fatigue on them, especially as the Rafah crossing is closed for long periods, despite our regard of the security conditions of sisterly Egypt.” They affirmed the need to reopen the crossing as before. This was the case before March last year, before Egyptian authorities closed the crossing following the spread of coronavirus. Since then, the crossing has only been reopened for a few days and in intervals.
Spokesman for Gaza’s Ministry of Interior and National Security, Eyad al-Bezm, said: “The Rafah crossing is the only gate for our people to the outside world. We recognise the sensitivity and the importance of this issue as an important lifeline for our people.” He added: “Before the opening of the Rafah crossing this week, we had 7,000 cases registered for travel, and this number may increase due to the continuing need of citizens to travel.”
The Egyptian authorities had re-closed the Rafah crossing last Friday afternoon, after an unusual four-day opening.