Lifeline for Gaza will open through Rafah crossing
By Ma’an news
July 29, 2012
GAZA CITY — Egypt will follow a new policy on the Rafah crossing between it and the Gaza Strip, and the people of Gaza will experience changes in travel procedures and times, says prime minister of the Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh.
Speaking to the Gaza-based Hamas-affiliated Palestine newspaper following a meeting with Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi, Haniyeh said that the crossing would operate 12 hours a day, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Further, the number of travelers leaving the enclave will rise to 1,500 a day, and all arrivals from abroad will be let in. “Sixty percent of the Gazan citizens blacklisted by Egypt and denied entry have been removed from the list,” Haniyeh added.
In addition, he said, an agreement has been reached that any Palestinian citizen who arrives in Egypt from other countries will be granted a 72-hour visa, so as to make travel arrangements and avoid been deported.
The electricity crisis was also discussed, he said.
“Three major steps will be carried out to solve the power crisis starting with an increase in the amount of fuel to Gaza’s power plant in tandem with amplifying the power grid from Egypt to Gaza from 22 to 30 megawatt. After that, a gas pipeline will be built to provide Egyptian natural gas to the sole power plant in the coastal enclave. Then, the Gaza Strip will be connected to the joint Arab grid known as the 8th grid.”
Haniyeh and Mursi discussed as well reopening the Egyptian consulate in Gaza City which had been shut down since the Israeli military offensive on Gaza, according to Haniyeh.
He hinted that he discussed with Mursi the issue of smuggling tunnels under the borders with Egypt.
“The tunnels were a temporary phenomenon created when the Palestinians lost all elements of life. They used them to fulfill their needs, and it is their natural right, but if the siege on Gaza is ended, these tunnels will be needless.”
Egypt should open Rafah crossing 24/7: Hamas
By AFP/Al Arabiya
July 12, 2012
Hamas’s prime minister in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniya called on Egypt on Wednesday to keep the Rafah border crossing open around the clock.
At a ceremony to inaugurate a new hall at the border crossing, Haniya urged the Egyptians “to open the door of the Rafah crossing wider by allowing it to work around the clock and increasing the number of travellers.”
The crossing is currently open nine hours a day for six days a week, with the number of people allowed to cross daily into Egypt capped at 1,500.
“Gaza today has commercial, agricultural and industrial activity,” he added, saying he had discussed with Egyptian officials the possibility of establishing a free-trade zone.
“We signed some deals and there are businessmen in Gaza ready to work on this, but we are still waiting for practical steps forward,” he said.
Egypt agreed to permanently reopen the Rafah crossing in May 2011, ending its cooperation with a blockade Israel imposed in 2006, after Gaza-based militants snatched an Israeli soldier.
Rafah is Gaza’s only border crossing not controlled by Israel, and news of Egypt’s decision to reopen it following the Egyptian uprising was warmly welcomed in the coastal strip, though Israel strongly criticized the move.
Until last week, when Egypt’s newly-elected President Mohammed Mursi took office, the number allowed to cross out of Gaza was capped at just under 1,000 people, officials said.
But even though the number has been raised to 1,500 the Palestinians say it is too low and that onerous restrictions continue to govern who can leave through the crossing.