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Egypt reopens Rafah crossing after Sinai attack

Published time: August 26, 2012 02:27
Edited time: August 26, 2012 06:31
Travellers walk with their belongings towards the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing on August 10, 2012. (AFP Photo/STR )

Travellers walk with their belongings towards the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing on August 10, 2012. (AFP Photo/STR )

Egypt has decided to reopen its border crossing with Gaza after closing it on the back of a militant attack in the Sinai Peninsula, that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers earlier this month.

The crossing is Gaza’s only connection with the outside world since Israel started its blockade of the territory in 2007, when Hamas took power.

"The Egyptian side has informed us that the Rafah crossing would open all days of the week, without more details," said Ehab Al-Ghsain, spokesman for the interior ministry in Gaza, as quoted by Reuters.

Following the attack Egypt allowed only a small number of Palestinians to cross the border. Since, the humanitarian situation appears to have worsened in Gaza, with Hamas officials warning of a potential health crisis there.

The reopening of the border-crossing is likely to improve relations between the new Egyptian government and Gaza’s Hamas rulers – which worsened following the deadly attack on August 5.

Hamas denied suggestions that Palestinian gunmen took part in the assault.

The incident, claiming the lives of 16 Egyptian servicemen, prompted Cairo to boost its military presence in Sinai.

The move prompted concern from Israel, accusing Egypt of violating the 1979 peace accord between the two countries.The deal stipulates that Egypt is only allowed to have lightly armed policemen in the area bordering Israel. The treaty also states that significant military moves by Egypt must be coordinated with Israel.

Egypt’s new defense minister has backed the country’s increased military presence in the Sinai Peninsula during his first conversation with his Israeli counterpart, Egyptian officials said Saturday

Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi told Ehud Barak that the tanks are needed to fight terrorism and assured him that it was only a temporary measure.

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