Movement of people via Rafah Crossing
Rafah Crossing is the only crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Because of the closure Israel imposes on Gaza’s land crossings, and the ban on air and sea travel to and from Gaza, Rafah Crossing has become a vital route to the outside world for Gaza’s residents over the years. However, Rafah Crossing now operates for only several days every month or two, and only individuals meeting certain criteria are allowed to exit. The crossing remains completely closed the rest of the time.
After Israeli forces left Gaza in 2005, when the Agreement on Movement and Access (AMA) was implemented, the monthly average number of entries and exits through Rafah Crossing reached about 40,000. However, after the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in June 2006, travel through Rafah was restricted, and the crossing was closed 76% of the time. In June 2007, after Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, Rafah was closed permanently except for random and limited openings by Egypt, which met only one-tenth of Gaza residents’ travel needs. During these openings, passage was allowed only for defined and limited categories: patients, religious pilgrims, foreign residents or residents of Gaza with foreign visas including students.
In June 2010, the events surrounding the flotilla to Gaza, Egypt announced it would open Rafah Crossing for travel on a daily basis. Passage remained limited to the above-mentioned categories. From June 2010 to January 2011, the monthly average number of exits and entries through Rafah reached 19,000 – 47% of the number of passengers traveling through Rafah in the first half of 2006.
At the end of May 2011, Egypt announced the opening of Rafah Crossing on a regular basis for all residents of Gaza carrying Palestinian passports and identity cards, with certain restrictions on male passengers aged 18 to 40. Between November 2012 and May 2013, the crossing operated every day, and thousands of Palestinians travelled through it every month. In the first half of 2013, a monthly average of about 20,000 exits and 20,000 entries was recorded at the crossing, a similar figure to the number of travelers during the time the AMA was implemented. However, on July 5, 2013, following escalating violence in the Sinai desert and events inside Egypt, Egypt once again restricted travel through the crossing, shutting it down almost completely in October 2014.
In 2014, an average of 8,119 exits and entries were recorded at the crossing monthly. During Operation Protective Edge, the crossing operated on an almost daily basis, but only certain categories of passengers were allowed to exit – injured individuals, urgent medical cases, Palestinians with dual citizenship and individuals who have foreign residency status or foreign visas. The crossing operated according to this criteria until the end of October 2014, but a month later, it was once again shut down for lengthy periods of time. During 2015, the crossing was only open for 32 days, and exit from Gaza to Egypt was only allowed on 25 days of those. In 2014 however, the crossing was open for 156 days, while exit from Gaza to Egypt was permitted on 144 days. In 2016, Rafah was open for 48 non-consecutive days in total. Exiting the Strip to Egypt was possible on 42 of those days. The monthly average number of crossings in both directions during 2016 was 3,520.
Last update: March 2017.