GAZA – The Rafah border crossing connecting Egypt with the Gaza Strip was exceptionally reopened on Sunday to allow Palestinians in and out the enclave, which has been in lockdown for more than a month due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The crossing, the only one connecting Gaza with the world out of Israel’s control, will be opened for three days.
Around 1,200 people are expected to use the opportunity to leave and a similar number will return to the enclave, according to the interior ministry.
The area is de facto ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement and has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007.
Anyone arriving in Egypt will be required to present a medical certificate that they have tested negative for the coronavirus to avoid having to quarantine in the neighboring country.
Those returning to the enclave will be confined for three weeks to prevent the spread of the virus, that was first detected in Gaza on Aug. 24.
Since then, Hamas has imposed a lockdown to avoid the spread of the contagion that could prove serious due to the enclave’s high population density of two million inhabitants, its precarious health system and its shortage of drugs and medical resources.
Authorities in Gaza have reported nearly 2,800 cases and 21 deaths, including 66 new infections and two fatalities over the past 24 hours, according to the health ministry.
It is the first time the Rafah crossing has opened since authorities in Gaza imposed the lockdown more than a month ago.
The crossing was completely shut down in mid-March when the pandemic began.
In early August, it was reopened for three days, allowing around 2,000 Palestinians to return to the enclave.