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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Egypt To Leave Border With Palestine Open ‘Indefinitely’

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Egypt said Monday that it will leave its border with the Palestinian territory open indefinitely for humanitarian aid and restricted travel.

On Tuesday a group of nine Egyptian parliamentarians entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing. The group includes two members of the Arab Democratic Nasserist Party and seven Muslim Brotherhood members. Two of the Brotherhood members took part in last week’s sail to Gaza.

The delegation members, who are visiting the Strip “to express solidarity with the residents of Gaza,” are expected to meet with senior Hamas figures.

With international pressure building to ease the blockade, an Egyptian security official said sealing off Gaza has only bred more militancy.

“Egypt is the one that broke the blockade,” Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said. “We are not going to let the occupying power escape from its responsibilities.”

Israel has not publicly protested the Egyptian move, but officials declined to comment Monday.

For the time being, Egypt is only allowing a restricted group of Gazans to leave the territory, including medical patients, students attending foreign universities and those with residency abroad. In nearly a week, thousands of Gazans have left and 500 tons of medical supplies were trucked in. It has done so before, sporadically and for a period limited to two or three days.

Egypt will not transfer large cargo shipments or construction material because the border crossing is designed primarily for travelers, a security official said. One such convoy, organized by Egypt’s Islamic opposition movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, was stopped Monday before it got close to the border.

Hamas welcomed the Egyptian border measures but said it hoped all Gazans would soon be able to travel freely without restrictions. “We have said since the first day that the blockade on Gaza will end, and we can see that on the ground right now. And we voice our hope that all other restrictions will be removed,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.

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