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The New Arab

Egypt to temporarily open Gaza border during Eid festivities

Sisi's government has tightened the Rafah crossing since taking power in 2013 [AFP

Date of publication: 28 June, 2016

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The tightly controlled Sinai border will be opened for humanitarian purposes around the time of Eid al-Fitr celebrations.
The Rafah Border Crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip will be open in both directions, as a "goodwill gesture" from authorities for the Muslim festivities of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan.

The opening is also aimed at addressing humanitarian and emergency cases.

This will be the third opening of the crossing in three months, after Egypt closed the border for 85 days. 

Gaza is partially blockaded by both Israel and Egypt, who both cite fears of supply routes feeding militant groups within Gaza.

Egypt has kept its Gaza border shut since Hamas took power in the strip in 2007. Following the overthrow of the Islamist government of Mohammad Morsi by now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the closure of the border tightened further.

Cairo accuses Hamas of aiding militant groups in Sinai, both through arms supplies and medical assistance for those injured in clashes with the Egyptian army. It has also taken a tough stance towards the group because of its affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that was banned in Egypt under Sisi.

Israel maintains its stranglehold on Gaza through restrictive land crossings and a maritime blockade that has also facilitated the harassment of Arab fishermen by Israel's navy.

After normalisation talks with Turkey on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu affirmed that the sea blockade on Gaza will remain in place.

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