The Palestinian Interior Ministry in the Gaza Strip has revealed that the Egyptian authorities have kept the Rafah border crossing closed for 300 days this year to-date. The figure was released in a study published on Monday and made available to Anadolu Agency. It is, claims the Hamas-run ministry, the worst year since 2009 for the crossing’s operation.
The ministry added that, since the beginning of the year, the Rafah crossing has operated partially on an exceptional humanitarian basis for 19 sporadic days, during which Palestinians with medical conditions and foreign passport holders were permitted to cross the border. There are, though, still “25,000 humanitarian cases” awaiting permission from Egypt to travel.
The ministry renewed its demand for the Egyptian authorities to live up to their “historical responsibility towards the Gaza Strip” by opening the Rafah crossing as a matter of urgency. It also appealed to international human rights organisations to put pressure on the Egyptian authorities to open the crossing for the exceptional humanitarian cases at the very least.
The Rafah crossing links the Gaza Strip and Egypt. It is dedicated to the crossing of individuals only, not goods, and it is the only window to the outside world for Gaza’s 1.9 million Palestinians. The Egyptian authorities have closed it almost completely since July 2013. The decision to open or close the crossing, claims Egypt, depends on the security situation in the Northern Sinai Peninsula.
Since Hamas won the generally-acknowledged free and fair Palestinian legislative elections in January 2006, Israel has imposed a land and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip. The blockade was tightened after the movement took over all aspects of running the enclave in June 2007.