Rafah Crossing was partially opened today after being closed since Thursday
June 19, 2012: Rafah Crossing, which connects the Gaza Strip and Egypt, was partially opened today to allow religious pilgrims to leave Gaza and Gaza residents who have been stranded in Egypt to return home. The crossing has been closed since Thursday. The Egyptians claim that the reason for the closure was the presidential elections in the country. However, despite Egypt’s announcement that the crossing would be closed only until Sunday, it remained closed until Monday. Yesterday, Egypt announced that the crossing would remained closed until Wednesday.
On Saturday, June 9, 2012, Egyptian authorities began reducing the number of individuals permitted to travel through Rafah Crossing and over the past week, many individuals who were not permitted to cross the border were returned to Gaza. A total of about 1,650 individuals who arrived at the crossing and were not allowed to enter Egypt were returned to the Gaza Strip over the past week.
Restrictions on travel through the Rafah crossing have been relaxed since the regime change in Egypt. Gaza residents who are under 18 years of age or over 40 are allowed to leave for Egypt without a visa. In view of the large number of people waiting to cross as a result of the disruptions over the past two weeks, the Gaza Interior Ministry announced that when the crossing reopens, travel by people who are between 18 and 40 years of age would be restricted. Only those who need to travel abroad urgently, such as patients in need of medical care, students who study abroad, people with residency visas in other countries which are about to expire and residents who have already purchased tickets to fly from Egypt to a third country would be allowed out. Gaza residents who do not require a visa to enter Egypt would be allowed to leave without restriction.