Egypt has opened its border with the Gaza Strip for the first time in two months.Here is a graph, from the Gisha NGO, showing how many people have been able to cross Rafah in recent months:
The Rafah border crossing opened Monday for four days, allowing Palestinians to travel in both directions. Crossing director Khaled al-Shaer says some 20,000 people have applied to exit. Gazans seeking medical care and students are among those expected to cross.
Rafah is Gaza's only gateway to the outside world with no Israeli control. Egypt has kept it mostly closed since the militant Hamas group seized control of the coastal strip in 2007. The closure worsened after Egypt's military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood member, in 2013. Hamas is an offshoot of the Brotherhood.
The crossing has been opened for a total of just 15 days this year.
For comparison, here is Gisha's chart of only exits through the Erez crossing to Israel - the real number of crossings would be roughly double:
Notice the largest category of people allowed to exit - merchants. A class of people who are simply not allowed through the Rafah border to Egypt.
Who is treating Gaza like a prison - Israelis who are allowing thousands of people to leave every week, or Egypt which goes months without allowing a single person to cross?
In related news, Israel's generosity in allowing materials into Gaza doesn't go unpunished. As TOI reports:
Israeli authorities intercepted a shipment of fiberglass incoming from Egypt earlier this month they say was intended for use by terror groups in the Gaza Strip to build rockets, officials said Monday.
Tax workers at the Nitzana crossing between Egypt and Israel became suspicious of the shipment, which was ordered by a Gaza-based importer and labeled as containing clothes and materials.
After opening the shipment for a closer look, tax officials discovered the rolls of fiberglass hidden inside.
“Terror groups in the Gaza Strip are taking advantage of every means possible in their attempts to rebuild,” the Shin Bet said in the statement. “Even smuggling basic materials for the terror industry by hiding them in humanitarian equipment.”
The tax authority said that last week it also stopped a shipment of fiberglass at the Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel into Gaza that was labeled as containing school equipment.