Egypt has announced the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Gaza for the entire Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the longest length of time since 2013, President Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi announced on Twitter.
El-Sissi wrote on his official Twitter account that the opening would “alleviate the burdens of the brothers in the Gaza Strip.”
The announcement late Thursday comes just days after Israeli forces shot and killed 59 Palestinians and injured more than 2,700 during mass protests along the Gaza border. The high number of wounded has overwhelmed the Gaza health system.
The crossing has been open since Saturday so el-Sissi’s announcement is technically an extension of the opening, and Egyptian authorities said 510 people crossed on Wednesday, the majority coming from Gaza into Egypt.
On Thursday, 541 people crossed from Egypt into Gaza along with dozens of trucks carrying cement, steel, power engines and medical and food aid from the Red Crescent, the officials said.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
In 2007, Hamas wrested control of Gaza by force, provoking the Israeli-Egyptian blockade that severely restricted the movement of most of Gaza’s 2 million inhabitants.
The Rafah crossing is Gaza’s main gate to the outside world but has only had sporadic openings since the 2013 ouster of Egypt’s elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, a high-ranking member of Hamas’ parent group, The Muslim Brotherhood.