Egypt to open Rafah border crossing with Gaza

April 30, 2011 - 0:0

DUBAI (AFP) – Egypt will permanently open the Rafah border crossing as part of its plans to ease the blockade on Gaza, Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi said in an interview with Al-Jazeera Friday.

Arabi said his country would take “important steps to help ease the blockade on Gaza in the few days to come,” according to the Arabic-language satellite channel.
He said Egypt would no longer accept that the Rafah border -- Gaza's only crossing that bypasses Israel -- remain blocked, describing his country's decision to seal it off as “shameful.”
Egypt has largely kept Rafah closed, opening it exceptionally for humanitarian cases from the besieged Gaza Strip.
Israel imposed its blockade on Gaza in 2006, further tightening it the following year when the Islamic resistance movement Hamas took power after winning Palestinian elections.
Since 2007, Gaza's 1.5 million people have relied on a web of tunnels beneath the Rafah border for most of their needs.
Most of the tunnels are used to bring in basic goods such as food, household appliances, building materials and livestock.
A 2005 agreement brokered by the United States put the Acting Palestinian Authority and Israel in charge of Rafah, with observation from the European Union.