Rafah Crossing opened twice during April

Rafah crossing. Photo by Gisha

Rafah crossing. Photo by Gisha

May 2, 2018. Rafah Crossing opened for three days last week, from Saturday, April 28 to Monday, April 30, allowing limited movement of people into and out of the Strip. This is the second time the crossing opened in April 2018, with 331 entries to Gaza and 1,511 exits to Egypt recorded; slightly over half the number of exits recorded when Rafah was opened two weeks earlier. The Egyptian authorities turned back 180 passengers, denying them entrance into Egypt without explanation.

People who exited the Strip reported many delays on the Egyptian side of the crossing, with biometric screening conducted for the first time at Rafah. This may have contributed to the drop in the number of exits, compared to the crossing’s last opening. Most passengers who entered Egypt were forced to spend the night at the terminal because parts of the Sinai Peninsula were under curfew. Travel time to Cairo was further delayed due to the many checkpoints in western Sinai, ranging between 18 to 24 hours.

A group of 85 students from Gaza, recipients of scholarships to academic programs in Sudan and Algeria, held a protest near the crossing, demanding that they be allowed to travel to their prospective universities. The students were able to cross over to the Egyptian side of Rafah on Monday but were turned back to Gaza at the end of the day, on the basis that the Palestinian Authority had not coordinated their travel.

Many in Gaza believe that Rafah Crossing may well open again at the end of next week, as an expression of Egypt’s commitment to alleviating Gaza’s distress. The numbers of Palestinians who manage to travel through the crossing still fall far short of actual demand.