30,000 Gazans in Urgent Need of Travel via Rafah Crossing

Stranded Gazans have gained limited access out of the Rafah border crossing last Thursday morning after Egyptian authorities succumbed to ongoing pressure to unblock the passageway.

Egyptian authorities Thursday evening closed the Rafah crossing after nine buses left the Gaza Strip, following the opening of the crossing on Wednesday morning, according to the Palestinian borders and crossing committee.

On Wednesday evening, the Egyptian authorities allowed four buses only access out of the border crossing.

The committee opened the crossing on Wednesday morning when it was announced it would remain open for four days. Priority was said to be given to passengers who didn’t make it through the crossing when it was last opened three weeks earlier.

Restrictions by the Egyptian authorities led to a remarkable slowness in Gazans’ movement inside and out, the Palestinian Crossings and Borders Department said.

Hundreds of Palestinian students, sick citizens, and humanitarian cases have been stranded in the blockaded Gaza Strip due to Egypt’s quasi-permanent closure of the Rafah border-crossing and the tough Israeli blockade imposed on the coastal enclave for the 10th year running.

Egypt has only opened the Rafah crossing on a sporadic basis in recent years. In early May, it reopened the crossing for two days, with only several hundred of the more than 30,000 passengers registered to cross making it through.

Egypt has upheld an Israeli military blockade on the Gaza Strip for the majority of the past three years, since the ouster of President Muhammad Morsi in 2013 and the rise to power of Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt.

The nearly nine-year Israeli blockade has plunged the Gaza Strip’s more than 1.8 million Palestinians into poverty. The destruction from three Israeli offensives over the past six years and slow reconstruction due to the blockade led the UN in September to warn that Gaza could be “uninhabitable” by 2020.

According to data from the Palestinian Interior Ministry, over 30,000 Gazans are in urgent need of travel via the Rafah crossing.