Amid rumors of tension between the Hamas government and Egypt, on Saturday, May 15, 2010, the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt was opened to the passage of people wishing to enter and exit the Gaza Strip. The border had been closed for 72 days prior to this latest opening.
The border crossing, which is due to be open for just a few days, has been closed on a regular basis since June 2007, except for occasional and limited openings that meet only 6% of the travel needs of the residents of the Gaza Strip.
Thus, during the present opening (only the third since the beginning of 2010), 8,000 people managed to submit applications for travel permits to the Interior Ministry in Gaza (a prerequisite for exit). With no knowledge of when the border would reopen, and based on the assessment that no more than 8,000 people would get through the border this time, the Interior Ministry has closed the registration process to further applications.
Initial figures show that on the first two days of opening (Saturday and Sunday) fewer than 2,000 people managed to cross over to the Egyptian side, while about 250 who entered the crossing were returned to the Gaza Strip by Egyptian forces for unknown reasons. About 300 people managed to enter Gaza from Egypt.
In comparison, before the closure, 40,000 people passed into and out of Gaza through the Rafah border crossing every month in order to realize their right to freedom of movement and access medical treatment, work, educational opportunities, and family.