BEIRUT

Middle East

Egypt reopens Rafah crossing with Gaza for pilgrims

Palestinians sit by the Mediterranean Sea water at the port in Gaza City, Sunday, June 22, 2014. (AP/Hatem Moussa)

GAZA CITY, Palestine: Egyptian authorities Sunday exceptionally reopened the Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip to allow Palestinian pilgrims to cross, Palestinian authorities have confirmed.

Maher Abu Sabha, the head of Gaza's crossing and border authority, said the terminal would be open only to allow 800 Palestinian pilgrims en route to the holy sites in Saudi Arabia and also allow 800 returning pilgrims into Gaza.

According to Abu Sabha, Egyptian authorities will not allow patients or humanitarian cases to cross the terminal.

Around 15,000 Palestinians, including 4,000 patients, are awaiting permission to leave Gaza through the border crossing with Egypt, Abu Sabha said.

Egypt has tightened its grip on the border with Gaza since last year's ouster of Mohammad Morsi - the country's first freely elected president - by the army.

Egyptian authorities accuse Hamas, which controlled the Gaza Strip from 2007 until the formation of a national unity government earlier this month, of interfering in Egypt's domestic affairs and carrying out attacks inside the country. Hamas has vehemently denied the claims.

 

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