Egypt to reopen Rafa border for Palestinians

by Alister POOLE on May 25, 2011

Egypt is to open its part of the Rafah border crossing, which heads into Gaza, on a permanent basis to most Palestinians as of Saturday, according to Egypt’s state news agency Mena.

The Gaza area has been under blockades since 2007, which is when the controversial Islamist Hamas movement managed to take control of the territory. During the rule of Hosni Mubarak, who was famously overthrown in February, Egypt had a staunch opposition towards Hamas and its administration while helping Israel, which says the blockade is important for stopping weapons being illegally smuggled into Gaza, realise its aims.

The Rafah crossing is set to be opened permanently from nine until nine, except on Fridays or public holidays, starting on Saturday the 28th of May, confirmed Mena. Women of all ages from Palestine will be exempted from any visa requirements as will men over 40 or under the age of 18.

Rafah is famous for being the only crossing that bypasses Israel and allows access into Egypt from Gaza. While it will be easing the restrictions it makes on crossings into Gaza, analysts believe that Israel won’t likely welcome the move.

Last month, Egypt’s transitional military government told of its intention to permanently open the crossing. In contrast to the administration of ousted President Mubarak, the new rulers in one of north Africa’s most famous countries appear all set to adopt a more independent-minded approach towards foreign policy affairs.

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