Egypt to reopen Gaza border from May 28

Posted By: Biswajeet Panda
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Rafah Crossing
Cairo, May 26: In a significant move, Egypt's military rulers have decided to reopen the country's Rafah border crossing into Gaza from May 28, said an Egyptian official. The move which will provide citizens of Gaza an open door to the outside world for the first time in four years is also expected to anger the Israel government.

Ambassador Menha Bakhoum, head of media and public diplomacy of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, on May 25 said, "The Egyptian government decided to open the Rafah border to (give) relief (to) the people of Gaza permanently."

Egyptian officials informed that Rafah, mostly closed after the Hamas movement wrested control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, would open from May 28 "permanently" from 9 am to 9 pm, on all days except Fridays and holidays.

It is also expected that women on both side of the border would pass without restrictions, while Palestinian men in the age-group of 18 and 40 will require Egyptian visas.

There has been no comment from the Israeli government.

Hamas officials have welcomed the move. Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, was quoted by the Washington Post as saying, “This is a very positive step. We appreciate the efforts from the Egyptian side to facilitate the travel of people. I hope this will be implemented honestly and can be done in such a way that people will feel a new era in the Gaza Strip."

With Hosni Mubarak ousted from power, there seems to be a new foreign policy taking place in Egypt largely meant to appease the country's pre-dominant muslim population. During Mubarak's regime the country's administration was strangely receptive of Israel's security concerns.

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