Egypt to open Rafah crossing after Hamas delegation visit
Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah border crossing with the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip for four days, state media announced on Thursday.
The crossing will open in both directions on Saturday to allow the passage of humanitarian cases and aid between Gaza and Egypt.
The decision comes days after Ismail Haniyeh, who heads the political bureau of Islamist movement Hamas that rules Gaza, arrived in Cairo for security talks with Egyptian officials.
The Rafah border crossing, which links Egypt with Gaza, is the main entry and exit point for two million Palestinians who live under Israeli siege to enter and exit the Strip.
It has been effectively sealed by Egyptian authorities since October 2014, when a militant attack in the restive Sinai Peninsula left over 30 Egyptian security personnel dead, leading to heightened security measures.
It was last opened in mid-December for three days.
Egypt accuses Hamas of having provided the weapons for the attack, an allegation strongly denied by the Islamist movement.
During the short presidency of Islamist Mohammed Morsi, Hamas enjoyed stronger relations with Egypt. However, this has reversed under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has clamped down on the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which is affiliated to Hamas.
Having also built a buffer zone along the Gaza border, Egypt effectively completed the shutting-off of Gaza from the outside world, while an Israeli blockade since 2007 has maintained a stranglehold on the Mediterranean coastal strip.
This blockade has drawn huge international criticism, with many having described Gaza as effectively the "world's largest open air prison".