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Egypt to temporarily open Rafah border crossing days after 'negotiations with Hamas' Open in fullscreen

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Egypt to temporarily open Rafah border crossing days after 'negotiations with Hamas'

The Rafah border crossing is a temporary lifeline for besieged Palestinians when opened [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 April, 2018

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Egypt to temporarily open Rafah border crossing days after reports came out Cairo and Riyadh have been negotiating with Hamas to end the protests on Gaza's border with Israel.

The Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip will be opened by Egypt on Thursday, the Palestinian embassy in Cairo has said. 

The border terminal which is crucial to deliver aid to civilians in the besieged Gaza Strip will remain open in both directions for three days as of Thursday, the embassy said in a Wednesday statement. 

This comes days after Israeli media reports that Saudi Arabia and Egypt have been pressuring Hamas to stop Palestinian protests in Gaza

Riyadh and Cairo have allegedly been in secret talks with Palestinian group Hamas to prevent Gazans from marching to the border with Israel, promising to open the Rafah crossing in return, Israeli intelligence commentator Yussi Melman claimed in Maariv, quoting an anonymous source.

The opening of the crossing, which Egypt controls, could give temporary relief to those in the enclave under siege, depending on what or who will be allowed to enter and/or leave.

A similar report from The Jerusalem Post quoted an anonymous Egyptian foreign ministry official, who added the offered deal had come at the urging of Saudi Arabia.

"The situation in Gaza is nearing an explosion towards anyone blockading [the Strip]," the source said, "and therefore there is a fear that Palestinian anger will turn toward Egypt in the coming weeks."

Egypt has kept Rafah largely sealed off since 2013, after the coup against Egypt's elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Israel has maintained a crippling siege of the Gaza Strip for more than a decade which it says is necessary to isolate Hamas, with whom it has fought three wars since 2008.

Human rights groups say it amounts to collective punishment of Gaza's two million residents.

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