CAIRO: The Rafah crossing will remain open for an extra day Friday to extend the opening to its fourth day for Palestinians with the requisite permits in Gaza to travel to and fro.
Gazans seeking medical treatment, studying abroad or holding foreign passports are the ones being allowed to enter Egypt, 1,900 of them having crossed in the first three days.
Palestinians who had headed out of Gaza before to perform the Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia during Ramadan are being allowed to return to the Strip, which has been blockaded since 2007.
A delegation from the Rachel Corrie Foundation was finally allowed to enter Gaza Wednesday evening after having been denied entry for 36 hours. The delegation – which includes Corrie’s parents – was invited to Gaza to attend the Rachel Corrie Memorial Ramadan Soccer Tournament held on Tuesday.
Delegation coordinator Serena Becker wrote on the foundation’s website that “Egyptian officials at the Rafah crossing [were] intentionally misdirecting us and forcing us to navigating red tape as they attempted to deny us entry.
The delegation noted that despite the obstacles they faced, it was still easier for a foreign delegation to enter Gaza than it was for Palestinians themselves. As such, the delegation bemoaned the repeated closure of the Rafah crossing.
“The closure of the entire Gaza Strip from [the] Rafah crossing, controlled by Egypt but in coordination with Israel to all of the crossing points between Israel and Gaza are human rights violations and violations of international law, Becker said. “And as much pressure as possible must be put on Israel to end the siege in Gaza and the occupation of Palestine.
Rachel Corrie was a 23-year-old American who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in March 2003 when protecting the home of a Gazan family as part of the International Solidarity Movement.
Her father Craig told the Palestinian Maan news agency that what the delegation “managed to do with a bit of hassle should be a right for all those stranded in Gaza.
“As frustrating as the Egyptian bureaucracy was, it is really Israel that is primarily responsible for what is going on in Gaza and at the borders, he added, “and though Egypt could and should do more to help Gazans with the siege, it is the world which must make it possible for Gazans to live the lives they deserve.