Around 16,500 Palestinians cross Egypt’s border with Gaza


Rafah (Egypt) : Around 16,500 Palestinians have crossed Egypt’s border with Gaza since it was opened June 1 after Israel’s attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, a security source said Friday.

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The source in the border town of Rafah said that some 1,930 were not allowed to cross the border after it was discovered that they carried forged visas.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on the Gaza Strip since Hamas took control of the area in 2007. Occasionally, Egypt has opened the Rafah border for three or four-day periods.

This is the first time that the border has been opened for an indefinite time.

Arab solidarity missions have crossed into Gaza, while Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa paid his first official visit to the besieged territory as part of the Arab League’s efforts to break the blockade on the Strip.

Tonnes of medical supplies, food and other aid items have also been driven into Gaza, whilst Palestinians have travelled to Egypt for medical help.

Last week, the Israeli government said it adopted measures to ease its blockade of the Gaza Strip and extend the list of products allowed in.

Egypt was criticised for keeping the border closed during Israel’s three-week offensive on the strip last year, which left more than 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.

In recent months it has also been criticised for building an underground barrier beneath the border, in a bid to cut the number of smugglers’ tunnels between Rafah and the Gaza Strip.