Egypt opens Gaza border for Ramadan after protesters killed


Egypt will keep the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip open for a month, marking the longest period in years that the gateway to and from the economically battered enclave has been accessible.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has ordered the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Gaza Strip for the entire holy month of Ramadan, days after mass protests along the Gaza-Israel border in which more than 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces.

Islamist group Hamas controls Gaza, but not its most important crossings, Rafah with Egypt and Erez with Israel.

The announcement comes days after Israeli fire killed almost 60 Palestinians during a protest along the Gaza border.

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At least 114 Gazans have been killed in border protests and clashes since March 30, prior to the controversial opening Monday of the USA embassy in Jerusalem after Washington recognised the disputed city as capital of Israel.

The Egyptian crossing is usually closed and opened by authorities in Cairo when they see an economic, humanitarian or political need. Hamas leader Ismail Haniya was in Egypt on Sunday, where he met with the director of the country's intelligence services Abbas Kamel, AFP reported. "Not only will Rafah's extended opening contribute to de-escalating the explosive atmosphere in the Strip, it will also help ease the humanitarian burden on Palestinians in Gaza".

But critics argue it amounts to collective punishment of the enclave's residents, with 47 per cent suffering from food insecurity according to United Nations figures.