Egypt opens Gaza border crossing as humanitarian crisis deepens

Egyptians opens border with Gaza for the first time in 2018. (File Photo: reuters)
Updated 07 February 2018
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Egypt opens Gaza border crossing as humanitarian crisis deepens

RAFAH, GAZA STRIP: Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah border crossing with Gaza on Wednesday after grave warnings about the humanitarian situation in the territory.
Palestinians rushed to Rafah, the only crossing point with a country other than Israel, when they heard it would open for the first time this year.
The Palestinian Embassy in Cairo said the crossing would only open for three days for travel and return of Palestinians, the Wafa news agency reported.
Since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, Gaza has been under a strict Israeli blockade, with few people able to travel in and out.
In recent months, an already desperate humanitarian situation has become even worse, with the UN’s envoy for the Middle East peace process warning that the territory was about to “collapse.”
Ibtisam Qeshta, 57, waited in front of the gate at the crossing to travel with her son for treatment at an Egyptian hospital.
“I have a liver disease,” she told Arab News. “I got a medical referral from the hospital in Gaza for treatment in Egypt after Israel refused to give me a permission to go to Al-Maqassed Hospital in Jerusalem. My health status does not allow me to wait very long.”
Normally the announcement to open the crossing is made at least one day before, allowing people to prepare. But on Wednesday morning Egypt announced it would open immediately.
The last time Rafah opened was for three days in December after forces from the Palestinian Authority took control of the border post in November.
The handover of security was the result of a reconciliation agreement between the warring Palestinian factions Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority and the West Bank, and Hamas which controls Gaza.
Mohammed Al-Sawafiri, 24, said he has been waiting for several months to reach Egypt so that he could go on to complete a master’s degree in Europe, for which he has a scholarship.
“I tried to travel in December last year, but I could not because of the lack of time," he said as he waited by the entrance gate. “I was supposed to travel since last year, but travel was almost impossible. I have postponed the scholarship for the second semester, and I'm about to lose it entirely if I cannot travel this time.”
Samir Al Madhoun, 37, who travels with his wife, said he was trying to reach the United Arab Emirates.
”I have a visa for the UAE for the third time, but every time Rafah was open I couldn’t travel,” he said “I have a job there, I will go to the UAE if I could travel this time, and I will not be back soon.”
The Rafah crossing with Egypt is the only crossing for travel abroad, with the exception of a few hundred Palestinians with Israeli permits to travel to Jordan through the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel.
Egypt opened the Rafah crossing for just 21 days in 2017. Palestinians in Gaza hoped it would be permanently opened after the Palestinian Authority took over the crossings in November.
Egyptian officials say they are unable to open Rafah more regularly because of the deteriorating security situation on the Sinai peninsula in recent years. Gaza borders Sinai, where extremist groups have been waging an insurgency against the Egyptian Army.


Thousands in Egypt attacked by stray dogs: Ministry

In this Feb. 3, 2015 file photo, stray dogs rest in front of the Pyramids of Giza on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. (AP)
Updated 17 June 2019
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Thousands in Egypt attacked by stray dogs: Ministry

  • Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad has said the ministry is ready to address the crisis of stray dogs

CAIRO: There have been 6,241 cases of people being hospitalized after being attacked by stray dogs in Egypt’s Menoufia governorate during the past four months, the Ministry of Health and Population said in a report.
Ahmed Kamel, one of those injured, said the dogs are everywhere, but no action has been taken by the authorities despite complaints from residents.
“We fear street dogs for our children. They’re attacking us ferociously. A dog attacked me after I left my house,” he added.
“I defended myself and tried to hit him with a stone, but he sank his teeth into my feet. I had to go to the health center and they gave me a vaccine.”
Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad has said the ministry is ready to address the crisis of stray dogs.
Meanwhile, a report by the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Directorate of Health Affairs in Menoufia revealed that 759 people have been hospitalized due to rat bites so far this year.
Dr. Hassan Shafiq, deputy head of the Egyptian Veterinary Service, said rat bites can transmit deadly diseases.
Rats “live next to ponds, marshes and plantations, and feed mainly on … grains, fruits and vegetables, so they are often responsible for crop damage,” he added.