Changes at Rafah Crossing

In late May 2011, Egypt announced the permanent opening of Rafah Crossing to all Gaza residents holding a Palestinian passport and identity card. According to the new rules, the crossing is to open every day with the exception of Friday. Men between the ages of 18 and 40 will be permitted to travel if they hold a foreign passport or visa to enter a third country, have foreign residency or are patients seeking medical treatment or students at academic institutions abroad. All other men in this age group require special coordination with Egypt in order to travel through Rafah. Palestinian residents who wish to travel through Rafah are still required to have an Israeli-approved Palestinian identity card and the prohibition on import through the crossing remains intact.

After a few days during which the crossing operated under the new rules, long delays occurred on May 31st. The following day, Egypt announced further restrictions at the crossing: the number of people entering Egypt would be capped at 400 per day. The names of travelers would be transferred to Egypt by the Palestinian authorities in advance, Egypt may deny passengers entry and patients must undergo an examination by an Egyptian medical committee at Rafah Crossing.

On June 4th, Egyptian border authorities delayed Palestinian passengers with no advance warning, citing construction at the crossing as the reason. In protest, the following day Palestinian border authorities closed Rafah Crossing for three days. The crossing resumed normal operations on June 8th.