Palestinians Request Egypt Open Gaza Border Crossing for Special Cases

Rafah border crossing was closed after attack which killed 33 Egyptian soldiers in Sinai.

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Palestinians at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip on August 27, 2014.Credit: AFP

The Palestinians ambassador to Egypt on Tuesday asked Cairo to reopen the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Sinai for "exceptional cases", to allow stranded Palestinians to return to Gaza, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported.

Following an attack in Sinai which killed 33 Egyptian soldiers late last month, Egypt shut down the Rafah crossing and began to implement a contingency plan for establishing a buffer zone between the Palestinian side of Rafah and the Egyptian side.

Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt Jamal al-Shubaki said in a statement he asked the Egyptian foreign minister to open the crossing for special cases, such as Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side of the border after receiving treatment abroad for injuries sustained in the conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip last summer.

Egypt promised to reopen the border crossing after the army finished the operation against the militants behind the Sinai attack, Al Shubaki said.

Though the attack bore the characteristics of the local Sinai militant group Ansar Beit al Maqdis, Egyptian officials, including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, accused foreign elements of complicity in the attack. Though Sissi did not elaborate, one senior Egyptian official said there was "no doubt" Palestinian elements were involved

Since the military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last year, it has stepped up an offensive in northern Sinai against militants and Islamic insurgents. Army engineers have demolished and blocked hundreds of secret smuggling tunnels, although authorities believe several remain and that they pose a national security threat.