|PCHR Welcomes the Egyptian Authorities’ Decision to Re-open the Rafah International Crossing Point for Movement to and from the Gaza Strip|
|Monday, 27 August 2012 00:00|
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) welcomes the decision of the Egyptian authorities to re-open the Rafah International Crossing Point for the movement of Palestinians to and from the Gaza Strip. PCHR believes that this decision comes in the context of the historic and major role played by Egypt in support of the Palestinian people, as well as the efforts exerted by the Egyptian leadership to ease the suffering of the population of the Gaza Strip, which is under a strict closure, and the severe restrictions on movement imposed by the Israeli Occupation Forces for the past six years.
According to the Egyptian authorities, the decision includes opening the Rafah International Crossing Point, the sole outlet to the outside world for 1.6 million Palestinians, in both directions on Sunday, 26 August 2012, with the same procedures and work hours that preceded its recent closure – every day, excluding Fridays and official holidays, from 09:00 to 17:00.
According to PCHR’s observations, this decision entered into force yesterday, applying the same travel procedures that preceded the closure of the crossing point on 05 August 2012. The crossing point operated from 09:00 to 17:00 and patients, persons whose residency permits in other countries are about to expire, holders of foreign passports, females of all ages and males aged below 18 and above 40 were allowed to travel. According to the Palestinian Crossings and Borders Authority, 655 people were allowed to leave the Gaza Strip, 951 others were allowed to travel back to the Gaza Strip and 22 persons were denied.
It is worth noting that the Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah International Crossing point between the Gaza Strip and Egypt following the crime committee in Sinai on Sunday evening, 05 August 2012, which left 16 Egyptian soldiers dead. They partially re-opened the crossing point on 10 August 2012 to allow Palestinians stuck abroad, pilgrims and humanitarian cases to return to the Gaza Strip.
PCHR and other Palestinian civil society organizations in the Gaza Strip had condemned in the strongest terms the hideous crime committed against the Egyptian authorities, and expressed their solidarity with Egypt, its people and leadership, stressing that these crimes caused strategic damage to the Palestinian people and their national cause. These groups also stressed that the only party who benefited from this crime and its consequences is the Israeli occupation. The past few days have proved this statement true, as the closure of the Rafah Crossing Point further tightened Gaza’s borders and aggravated the suffering of Gazans, which the Israeli occupation authorities have been trying to do throughout the years of occupation, especially in the last 6 years.
In light of the above:
1. PCHR welcomes the re-opening of the Rafah International Crossing Point for Palestinians wishing to travel to and from the Gaza Strip, and believes that this decision is not an alternative to the essential issue, which is lifting the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip, opening border crossings for commercial transactions and allowing the free of movement of persons, including movement between the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the outside world through border crossings controlled by Israel.
2. PCHR calls upon the Egyptian authorities to decide facilitations that will allow the categories of people who are currently denied freedom of movement, particularly young men aged 18-39, to travel to and from the Gaza Strip, and to increase the working hours at the crossing point progressively to 24 hours a day.
3. PCHR emphasizes that the Gaza Strip is still an occupied territory controlled by Israel and that the State of Israel as an occupying power, according to international law, is responsible for the welfare of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.
4. PCHR stresses that the Egyptian decision to re-open the Rafah International Crossing Point does not exempt the international community from their responsibility to exert pressure on Israel to lift the closure and comply with international law.
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