Rafah Crossing was open for four days, and closed again

Rafah Crossing. Photo by Gisha.

December 21, 2017. Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Egypt opened for four days this week for movement of people in both directions. The crossing was open between Saturday, December 16, and Tuesday, December 19. During this time, 2,563 people exited the Strip and 957 people entered it. Tens of thousands of people are currently on the waiting list to cross through Rafah, though no new names have been added to the list for more than two months.

Last month, students from Gaza who need to exit the Strip to reach university programs abroad held demonstrations near the crossing. This week, many of them managed to leave the Strip via Egypt, and onwards from there to their prospective campuses. Along with others who requested to exit the Strip to seek medical treatment unavailable in Gaza, visit family, or travel to business meetings, the passengers were gathered in a stadium nearby, where they boarded shuttles to the crossing. Hundreds of people arrived to the meeting point uninvited, hoping to obtain permission to cross, but to no avail.

The monthly average number of people crossing through Rafah in both directions has dropped consistently since 2013. In the first half of 2013, when the crossing operated regularly, some 40,000 exits and entries were recorded each month. Since 2013, the crossing has remained virtually closed. The closure of Rafah Crossing along with the tightening of Israel’s restrictive permit regime has caused severe disruptions to the lives of Gaza’s residents.