Palestinians continue to leave Gaza as Rafah crossing remains open

Other News Materials 31 August 2008 18:08 (UTC +04:00)

The Rafah crossing point between the Gaza Strip and Egypt opened its gates for a second day Sunday, for the benefit of stranded Palestinians, students, and people seeking medical attention, the dpa reported.

Police officials said 1,952 people crossed into Egypt from the Gaza Strip on Saturday, most of them residents of Arab and foreign countries stranded in the Strip since January.

At the same time, 882 Palestinians who had been stranded on the Egyptian side of the border crossed back into the salient, police spokesman Mohammed Adwan said.

Another 400 Palestinian patients and their companions were expected to leave the Strip Sunday to receive medical treatment in Egypt or in other countries.

Rafah, Gaza's main crossing point to the Arab world, has been completely shut for over a year, ever since Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip routed forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas and seized control of the salient.

Until the Hamas takeover, the Rafah crossing point had been controlled by Abbas' presidential guard and European Union monitors, according to a 2005 US-brokered agreement.

Hamas rejects the agreement and wants a role in running the crossing point, a demand Egypt rejects.

In January Hamas gunmen blasted huge holes in the border fence separating Gaza from Egypt, and hundreds of thousands of Gazans poured back and forth through the breaches before the border was re-shut.