The foreign ministry released a statement on Sunday saying it is continuing “Egypt’s efforts to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip”, allowing movement through the Rafah border crossing.
The statement claimed that over 7,500 people have crossed from both sides of the Rafah border, adding that Egyptian authorities allowed over 12,000 tons of medical and nutritional aid into Gaza.
“Since the outbreak of Israeli attacks on Gaza, Egypt has been keen on keeping the Rafah border open exceptionally and continuously, allowing for the passage of people and humanitarian aid convoys, and welcoming those who are injured and in need of humanitarian care to alleviate from the suffering of the Gaza residents,” the statement read.
Last week, the Egyptian army destroyed 20 tunnels connecting Egypt and Gaza, bringing the total number of tunnels destroyed in the past year up to 1659, an army statement released Friday said. The same day, the army also arrested three Palestinians for allegedly “attempting to sneak into Egyptian territory.”
Meanwhile, Dr Hany Al-Basoos, a Gaza resident and professor of Political Science at the Islamic University in Gaza, said: “Although the foreign ministry released this statement, the fact is that the border is still not open”.
Al-Basoos said the Rafah border crossing allows for a maximum number of 20 severely wounded Palestinians to cross per day and for only “a few hours of the day”. Foreigners and holders of Egyptian passports are also allowed to cross, Al-Basoos said. However, Palestinians who want to return to Gaza are not allowed back in.
“It is exceptional, very limited, and because it is only for a short period of time,” he said.”Thousands need to cross by they only allow tens of people to do so.”
The ministry assured that all of “Egypt’s efforts to lift the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip will continue,” based on what it calls “its historical and moral responsibility towards its Palestinian brothers”.
It called on the international community to uphold its “responsibilities”, to “alleviate from the suffering of the Palestinian people and to end the bloodshed of the innocent”.
The statement added that it is “surprising” that “some have been promoting statements in contradiction with what is happening on the ground”.
More recently, the Egyptian army halted an activist aid convoy heading to Gaza in mid-July and forced it back to Cairo. Security forces also attacked Gaza solidarity protests on Eid El-Fitr, allegedly killing five protestors, Press TV reported.
Since July 2013, Egyptian authorities have maintained almost complete closure of the Rafah border crossing, intensifying the siege on the Gaza Strip. The Egyptian army also undertook a campaign to destroy hundreds of tunnels connecting between Gaza and Sinai.