News / Middle East

    Egypt Eases Restrictions on Gaza Border Crossings

    Palestinians wait at the Egyptian passport administration at Rafah crossing port,  May 28, 2011
    Palestinians wait at the Egyptian passport administration at Rafah crossing port, May 28, 2011

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Egypt has eased restrictions on border crossings for pedestrians from the Gaza Strip.  Palestinians see it as a big step toward ending  a four-year-old blockade that Israel and Egypt have imposed on the enclave. Palestinians with proper documentation from the Gaza Strip can pass freely into Egypt Sunday after the Egyptian government eased restrictions on its border with Gaza.

    A Palestinian border policeman puts a stamp on the passport of Mahmoud al-Hams, a Gaza resident who says he has not left the enclave for years. He is among the first of hundreds who arrived at the Rafah border terminal Saturday before boarding a shuttle bus that would take him past a gate into Egypt.

    He says he is very happy that he can finally go out and see the world.

    Egypt began easing restrictions on this border crossing earlier this year following the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, opening this crossing sporadically for those with special permits that were granted on the basis of medical and other needs.

    Now, the crossing is supposed to have regular hours and be open generally to anyone other than men between the ages of 18 and 40.  

    Those crossing on Saturday hailed the loosening of restrictions as a relief after years of a closure imposed by Israel and Egypt.  Gaza resident Sabri Matar is going to Egypt for medical treatment. He thanks the Egyptians for understanding the suffering of the Palestinians and opening this crossing.

    Egypt under Mubarak cooperated with Israel's closure of the Gaza Strip following a violent takeover of Gaza by the militant Islamist group Hamas. The group, considered a terrorist organization by the United States and others, was also viewed as a threat by Mubarak.

    Egypt decided to ease restrictions after Hamas recently signed a reconciliation agreement with the rival Fatah faction that runs the West Bank.

    Hamas sees the interim government that replaced Mubarak as more sympathetic to the Palestinians' cause, and on Saturday praised Egyptians' decision to loosen restrictions.

    Speaking at the border crossing Saturday, Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official, called it the start of a new era of freedom for the people of Gaza and of closer cooperation with Egypt.

    "The crossing is a fruit [of] the Egyptian revolution and a fruit of the reconciliation. I hope the opening of the crossing will support the reconciliation, first of all, and support the relationship between the Egyptians and the Palestinians,” he said.

    Israel is watching events on the border with concern.  Israeli officials have warned that Egypt's loosening of restrictions could open the way for terrorists and arms smugglers.  

    The loosening of the border crossing restrictions applies only to pedestrians.  Along with Israel, Egypt continues to restrict the passage of most goods and vehicles into the Gaza Strip.

    Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
    and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora