GAZA (Ma’an) — Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Egypt for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday, but only permitted the passage of students into Egypt.
Egyptian authorities announced on Sunday that they would open the Rafah crossing for five consecutive days, beginning Monday morning and ending Friday evening, only for humanitarian cases, students, holders of Egyptian passports, patients and visa holders.
According to the Palestinian border and crossing committee, 600 students were expected to travel from the besieged coastal enclave into Egypt on Thursday and Friday, the last two days the crossing will remain open.
The committee added that six buses, transporting 668 travelers, were able to pass through the crossing on Wednesday, while 55 Palestinians were denied entry into Egypt for unknown reasons. In addition, 324 Palestinians who had been stranded on the Egyptian side of the crossing were permitted to return to the Gaza Strip.
Egypt has upheld an Israeli military blockade on the Gaza Strip for the majority of the past three years, since the ousting of former President Muhammad Morsi in 2013 and the rise to power of President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt.
While the Egyptian border has remained the main lifeline for Gazans to the outside world, Egyptian authorities have slowly sealed off movement through the border since Morsi was toppled by the Egyptian army.
Due to the constraints on Palestinian movement through the crossing, many Gazans are commonly barred from leaving or entering the besieged coastal enclave, sometimes for months at a time, as the crossing is only periodically opened by Egyptian authorities, stranding Palestinians on both sides of the crossing during closures.
In 2015, the Rafah crossing was closed for 344 days. The crossing has been reopened on a much more regular basis since the beginning of 2016.
The near decade-long Israeli blockade has plunged the Gaza Strip’s more than 1.8 million Palestinians into extreme poverty and some of the highest unemployment rates in the world.