Egypt opened its border with Gaza for the second time in a month on Wednesday, giving Palestinians a four-day respite from a closure stemming from friction between Cairo and the enclave’s Islamist rulers.
Egypt’s shuttering of Rafah and destruction of cross-border smuggling tunnels, along with tight restrictions imposed by Israel along its own frontier with Gaza, have deepened economic misery for many of the 1.9 million Palestinians in the enclave.
The crossing will be open for four days starting Wednesday and busses will transport Palestinians on either side of the border, an Egyptian border official said.
It will close again on Friday and reopen on Saturday and Sunday, the official added. The crossing will open for humanitarian cases, medical patients, and students.
Egypt has kept its border with the Gaza Strip largely closed since Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood was ousted as president three years ago.
Egyptian officials view Gaza’s governing Hamas group as a threat, accusing it of supporting an Islamist insurgency in the Sinai peninsula bordering the Palestinian territory. Hamas denies the allegation.
Some 30,000 Gazans are on a waiting list to cross at Rafah. Only a few thousand, including patients, students and holders of residency permits in third countries, are likely to do so in the coming four days.
Israel said in May that it planned to reopen a second border point for commercial traffic into Gaza, a step toward gradually easing the blockade it imposed since 2007.
Israel says its blockade prevents the movement of militants and stops construction materials that could be used by Hamas to make bunkers and tunnels. Palestinians there say they are under siege and are unable to rebuild homes destroyed by Israeli bombing in a 2014 war.