The Rafah-Egypt border crossing was partially reopened on Tuesday morning to allow Palestinians who had been trapped for the past 23 days on the Egyptian side of the crossing, to enter the Gaza Strip.

The crossing was opened after European monitors had returned to their posts at the crossing, as their presence is required for the crossing to be open, due to the agreement reached in 2005.  The European monitors had left their positions after being asked to by their embassies, citing safety concerns, it is reported.

Saleem Abu Safiyah, the Director of Security at the Crossings, said that the Rafah crossing was opened on Tuesday morning and will remain open until 5:00 P.M today, Tuesday 18th July.

Following the attack of Palestinian resistance fighters on an army post, resulting in the capture of one Israeli soldier, and the death of three others, the Israeli forces closed the crossing on 25 June 2006, as the army started its ‘Summer Rain’ offensive in the Gaza Strip.  

During the closure, more than three thousand Palestinians got trapped between the Gaza-Egypt borders, which led to the deaths of at least 8 Palestinians, among them children.

This crossing is the only border crossing that allows Palestinians from Gaza to connect to the outside world.

This is not the first time that the Israeli army has closed the crossing by force, when the European monitors have clamed that there is a security threat.