The move was seen as an attempt to bring Hamas to the table, but Israel has not formally commented on the matter. Al-Sisi declared it was to help Gazans during Ramadan.
Watchtower at the Rafah border crossing Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Marius Arnesen
After weeks of escalated protests and international concerns about the status of Palestinians living in Gaza, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi declared late Thursday that the Egypt-Gaza Rafah crossing will open for the month of Ramadan. The President’s declaration came as Palestinians were increasingly lining up at the border to enter Egypt during Ramadan, and if the gate remains open for the entire period, it will allow Gaza’s residents one of the longest periods of access to Egypt in years.
The decision comes in the wake of the Istanbul Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, where Muslim leaders convened to condemn the recent violence in Gaza. Cairo has been seen as an intermediary between Israel and Gaza, and the opening of the border will allow Gaza’s government access to needed emergency supplies. Throughout the protests, Hamas leaders have been insisting on a lifting of the blockade before talks, which Israel refused due to security concerns it maintained were necessary for its protection.
Al-Sisi’s official Twitter account stated that the move was intended to “alleviate the burdens of our brothers in Gaza.” The tweet can be seen below:
أصدرت توجيهاتى للأجهزة المعنية بإتخاذ ما يلزم لإستمرار فتح معبر رفح البرى طوال شهر رمضان المبارك وذلك ضماناً لتخفيف الأعباء عن الأشقاء فى قطاع غزه#تحيا_مصر
— Abdelfattah Elsisi (@AlsisiOfficial) May 17, 2018
Israel has not officially commented on the move, but the attempt could be intended to bring Hamas to the negotiating table.