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Political movements call for opening Rafah border crossing ‘indefinitely’

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Movements collect donations for Gazans; plan aid envoy scheduled to take off to the strip next week

Egypt exceptionally opened the Rafah border crossing, which connects the country to the Gaza Strip, after the death toll from the Israeli military operation in the Strip rose to 121 Palestinians. (AFP Photo)

Egypt exceptionally opened the Rafah border crossing, which connects the country to the Gaza Strip, after the death toll from the Israeli military operation in the Strip rose to 121 Palestinians.
(AFP Photo)

Nine political parties and movements called on Egyptian authorities on Saturday to “indefinitely” open the Rafah border crossing, in the wake of the latest Israeli offensive in Gaza.

The offensive, now in its sixth day, has so far left over 160 killed and nearly 1,120 injured in Gaza, according to Gazan health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qedra.

In a joint statement released on Saturday, the political movements called on President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and his administration to “adopt a position which honestly reflects the Egyptians’ feelings toward their Palestinian brothers”.

“The Rafah border crossing is a matter of life or death for Palestinians in Gaza; it shouldn’t be subject to bargaining,” the statement read. It added that opening the border crossing, which connects the country to the Gaza Strip, should not prevent Egypt from taking all necessary measures to protect its national security.

Commenting on the calls for opening the Rafah border crossing, Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty told privately-owned satellite channel Sada Al-Balad on Saturday that there are several crossings into Gaza other than Rafah.

The Gaza strip legally remains under Israeli occupation since the latter still controls its airspace and maritime, as well as the crossings leading to it, Abdelatty said. He added that, according to the Geneva conventions which regulate international humanitarian law, Israel is legally obliged to protect Palestinians under occupation and provide them with basic materials.

In a statement issued on Friday, human rights watchdog Amnesty International called on Egypt and Israel to ensure that sufficient amounts of medical and humanitarian supplies are allowed into the strip and to facilitate the exit of anyone in need of urgent medical treatment.

Egypt exceptionally opened the Rafah border crossing on Saturday to receive injured people. The crossing had been opened on Thursday as well, receiving 11 patients but was closed once again on Friday without providing a reason, Gaza’s Interior Ministry spokesman said.

Since the ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi last July, the Rafah crossing has largely remained closed, with relations between the occupied territories and Egypt becoming tense.

The nine political movements organised a protest against the Gaza offensive scheduled outside the Press Syndicate in downtown Cairo on Sunday. They also announced they are collecting donations, which will be delivered to the strip through an aid convoy scheduled to take off early next week.

Signatories of the joint statement include: Al-Dostour Party, Misr Al-Qawia (Strong Egypt) Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Revolutionary Front and Al-Tayar Al-Shaaby (Popular Current).

Several political parties and movements in Egypt have strongly condemned the deadly attacks on the Gaza strip, some calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Cairo.

The Israeli military operation in Gaza began a week after the bodies of three Israeli teenagers were found by the IDF near Hebron on 30 June. The three went missing for 18 days before their bodies were found, with the IDF blaming “Hamas terrorists” for their kidnap and murder.

Two days after they were found, the body of a 17 year-old Palestinian boy was found after he was burned alive.


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