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Egypt's Sisi orders Gaza border crossing opened for Ramadan

Prolonged closure of Rafah crossing often restricts besieged Palestinians' access to health care and basic goods
Palestinians wait at Rafah border crossing recently (Reuters)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Thursday opened the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to his official Twitter account.

The border with the Palestinian territory is mostly shut but opens at regular intervals, for a few days every two or three months. This would be the longest single opening in years.

Translation: I gave directions to the relevant institutions to take the necessary steps to keep the Rafah crossing open during the blessed month of Ramadan in order to alleviate the burdens of (our) brothers in Gaza.

Israeli troops killed dozens of Palestinians on Monday who had protested on the Gaza border as the United States opened its embassy in Jerusalem, moving its diplomatic mission in Israel to the contested Holy City from Tel Aviv.

Hamas controls Gaza, but not its most important crossings, Rafah with Egypt and Erez with Israel. It handed control of those crossings late last year to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in a reconciliation deal signed in Cairo.

Egypt closed the border for long periods after attacks on Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula that increased in 2013, with Egyptian officials blaming Palestinian militants from Gaza for some of them.

The lengthy closures of the Rafah crossing have further restricted Palestinians' access to health care and basic goods, helping tighten the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

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