Thursday, May 26, 2011

Egypt to Open Gaza Border Crossing With Occupied Palestine

Egypt to open Gaza border crossing

By Middle East correspondent Anne Barker

Egypt plans to permanently open its border crossing with the Gaza Strip in an attempt to ease the four-year blockade imposed by Israel.

For years Egypt has largely complied with the Israeli blockade on Gaza, which has stopped or restricted the flow of most supplies going in and banned most people from leaving.

But now Egypt has declared its border at Rafah will open almost daily from Saturday - and stay open permanently.

Women of all ages and men under 18 or over 40 will be able to leave. Others will need a visa.

Students of all ages with letters of acceptance from Egyptian universities will also be allowed to enter Egypt without any restrictions.

The new interim Egyptian government has reportedly made the decision to end the division between Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere.

But Israel, which did ease part of the blockade last year, says opening the border could allow weapons and terrorists to enter Gaza.

The move suggested a further policy shift since the overthrow of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, whose government cooperated with the Jewish state in enforcing a blockade on the Islamist Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and has a 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

Under Mr Mubarak, Egypt only sporadically opened up the Rafah border crossing for food and medicine or to let through people, mainly those seeking medical treatment or travelling to study from the area which is home to about 1.5 million Palestinians.

- ABC/Reuters

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