Rafah crossing – the sole point of exit and entry for most of the two million Palestinians in Gaza – has been kept shut by Egypt for nearly a decade. Tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza are registered and waiting to cross for urgent purposes such as study abroad and accessing medical treatment unavailable in the Strip.
The crossing has been partially opened only 26 days so far this year. It was partially opened just 44 days in all of 2016. Egypt has given various reasons for the prolonged closure: insecurity in the Sinai peninsula and the building of a new border terminal.
Rafah crossing is meanwhile being used by the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank in its bid to reestablish control in Gaza, with senior officials lobbying Egypt not to reopen the crossing unless it is operated by PA personnel, rather than Hamas officers.