Movement of goods and people in and out of the Gaza Strip has presented a challenge for a very long time. There are only two crossing points for people to and from the Strip (Erez Crossing at the north into Israel and Rafah Crossing at the south into Egypt). For years passage through both crossings has been severely restricted. Following the Egyptian revolution in 2011, the Egyptian Government greatly increased the flow of traffic through Rafah Crossing. But current developments in Egypt have resulted in a return to crossing closures and severely restricted movement in and out of Gaza. The recent overthrow of Egypt’s Morsi government and intensified military operations in the Sinai Peninsula have made the crossing situation unpredictable.
On September 11, 2013, Egyptian authorities closed Rafah Crossing indefinitely for security reasons and opened it only for a few hours a day starting September 18th. This opening is only for “emergency cases” including medical patients, humanitarian cases, and students. The Israeli organization Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement this week reported “around 800 students from Gaza are currently unable to reach their studies because of the closure of Rafah. Similarly, some 5,000 individuals, who meet criteria for travel via Rafah and are registered at Gaza’s Ministry of Interior, remain stranded in Gaza. At least 600 Gaza residents who are currently abroad, are unable to return to Gaza because of Rafah’s closure – included among them are patients who traveled to Egypt for medical treatment.” Even on days when the crossing is open, hours of operation have frequently been cut in half.