Egypt limits crossings at Gaza border
By Joel Greenberg,
JERUSALEM — Egypt reimposed restrictions Wednesday on the number of Palestinians allowed to enter from the Gaza Strip at the Rafah crossing, days after permanently opening the border point in a move to ease Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory.
Hatem Aweidah, who is in charge of border crossings for the Hamas government in Gaza, said that Egyptian officials had set a limit of 350 to 400 travelers who would be granted entry each day, on the grounds that border personnel could not handle more.
A similar daily limit had been imposed in the months before the permanent opening on Saturday.
Hamas officials said that the number of people crossing into Egypt had dropped sharply Tuesday and that there were further delays Wednesday before differences over other proposed restrictions, such as submission of travelers’ names a day in advance, were resolved.
Under its blockade of Gaza, Israel allows in limited quantities of goods and bars the movement of people except for a restricted number of Palestinians receiving medical treatment or doing business in Israel.
Sari Bashi, executive director of Gisha, an Israeli rights group that monitors freedom of movement in Gaza, said that the latest restrictions at Rafah showed that Saturday’s reopening did not adequately offset the blockade.
“Rafah is an important but partial solution for Palestinians seeking to travel abroad, but it does not resolve the need for allowing passage through the Israeli-controlled crossings, especially to the West Bank,” Bashi said.