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Palestinians stranded after Egypt closes Rafah crossing

Gazans wait for a bus, which will transport them to Egypt, after Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah border gate on 8 February 2018 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

Hundreds of Palestinians are stranded in the Sinai desert after Egyptian authorities abruptly closed the Rafah border crossing on Wednesday night, hours after opening it.

The Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt, Diab Al-Louh, said the embassy had formed a crisis cell to monitor the safety of those who were stranded on the highway between the cities of Ismailia and Arish on the Egyptian side of the crossing.

In an interview with Quds Press yesterday, Al-Louh said 250 passengers spent last night at Al-Midan checkpoint, south of Arish. The embassy is coordinating efforts to transfer them in a security convoy to Cairo which may take place “in the afternoon”.

The Palestinian ambassador pointed out that emergency phone numbers are available to communicate with stranded travellers and to secure their arrival in Cairo, noting that they have no information if the crossing will reopen.

Read: As Rafah reopens, Egypt stops Palestinian students from leaving Gaza

A spokesman for Rafah crossing, Moataz Dalloul said that 516 passengers have been stranded since Wednesday evening on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing.

He explained that the passengers completed their travel procedures however they could not cross into Gaza because the Palestinian buses did not arrive to collect them after the border was closed.

He pointed out that 664 passengers passed through the crossing on Wednesday from Gaza to Egypt, including 588 patients.

Egyptian authorities announced on Tuesday that they would open the Rafah crossing for four days.

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