By MARK LAVIE | AP
CAIRO: Egypt’s decision Wednesday to end its blockade of Gaza by opening the only crossing to the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory this weekend could ease the isolation of 1.4 million Palestinians there. It also puts the new Egyptian regime at odds with Israel, which insists on careful monitoring of people and goods entering Gaza for security reasons.
The Rafah crossing will be open permanently starting Saturday, Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency announced. That would provide Gaza Palestinians their first open border to the world in four years, since Egypt and Israel slammed their crossings shut after the Islamic militant Hamas overran the Gaza Strip in 2007.
During the closure, Egypt sometimes opened its border to allow Palestinians through for special reasons such as education or medical treatment. But with Israel severely restricting movement of Palestinians through its Erez crossing in northern Gaza, residents there were virtual prisoners.
MENA’s statement said the old rules will be reinstated, allowing Palestinians with passports to cross into Egypt every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. except for Fridays and holidays. read more