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Monday, February 23, 2009

Egypt opens Rafah border for 3 days

Egypt temporarily opens Rafah crossing

Sun, 22 Feb 2009 16:34:47
Yousef Al-Helou, Press TV, Rafah crossing

Sun, 22 Feb 2009 15:22:01 GMT

A Palestinian toddler waits with family members to cross into Egypt ‎from the Rafah border on February 22, 2009.‎
Egypt has partially opened its sole border-crossing with the Gaza strip to allow the passage of a limited number of students and patients.

amas official Adel Zurub said Egypt opened the Rafah border around 9 am local time (0700 GMT) Sunday, allowing limited passage for three days, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The move would enable family members, doctors and journalists stranded on both sides of the border to cross back.

Israel's 23-day deadly war on Gaza, which was launched last December, has killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, leaving many more in dire need of medical care and humanitarian supplies.

While several hundred students and some 1,500 other Palestinians will be allowed entry into Egypt - provided they have the necessary written documents - some analysts say three days may prove too short for war-hit residents of the impoverished enclave.

The announcement comes amid Cairo-proposed peace talks between Israeli officials and Hamas, the democratically-elected government of Gaza, aimed at reaching a lasting truce in the region.

Tel Aviv, however, has conditioned the lifting of its 19-month-old blockade on the Gaza Strip to the release of captures Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit -- a condition denounced by both Egyptian and Hamas officials.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry said Thursday that the Israeli cabinet decision "undoubtedly would damage efforts to finalize a long-term truce."

Hams says it will only release Shalit, capture in a cross-border operation in 2006, in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, whose names have been handed to Israeli officials.

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