The Egyptian authorities closed on Wednesday afternoon the Rafah crossing terminal after hundreds of Palestinians, mainly patients and stranded, flooded into the Egyptian side of terminal, as their entry has been delayed.
The angry awaiting travelers began heading for the terminal on Wednesday midday after they have been waiting since the early morning , while their entry has been delayed by the Egyptian authorities, witnesses said.
Witnesses added that hundreds of youth hurled stones at Egyptian security personnel, manning the border line, as more security forces have been beefed up to prevent further clashes.
The Egyptian forces responded with rocks throwing and water pumping into the angry crowds, sources at the crossing told media outlets.
From its part, the interior ministry of the ruling Hamas party called on the travelers to come back to their homes as the Hamas forces have been trying to restore calm.
Spokesman of the Hamas’s interior ministry, Ehab Alghosain, was quoted yesterday as saying that the Rafah crossing terminal can absorb movement of 1000 travelers in a regular working day, but the Egyptians only allowed approximately 100.
Egypt decided Tuesday to reopen the Rafah crossing terminal exceptionally to allow some dozens of patients who are in need of medical care and hundreds of stranded Palestinians at both sides of the border, to enter.
The Rafah crossing terminal has been closed since June2007, when Israel sealed off all Gaza’s crossings following the Hamas takeover of the coastal territory in June 2007. Since then, Egypt has reopened the crossing sporadically.
Palestinian sources estimate that there are 7,000 Palestinians in Gaza need to move outside of the coastal enclave for many purposes, like renewing residency permits in nearby Arab countries, resuming study abroad and visiting family members.
Yesterday, the Palestinian Prime Minister of Hamas, Ismail Haniya, called on Cairo to reopen the terminal and urge Israel to commit to the latest ceasefire deal with Hamas, which Cairo mediated two weeks ago.
The ceasefire deal calls for lifting the Israeli blockade on Gaza in return for stopping homemade shells fire from Gaza into nearby Israeli towns.
Regarding the Rafah terminal crossing, Cairo wants that this terminal be reopened in coordination with the Palestinian presidency in Ramallah and in accordance with the terms of 2005’s operation agreement, brokered by Washington, following the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip in September of that year.