Egypt to reopen Gaza crossing on Wednesday. officials say

Palestinians stand behind the bars of a symbolic cage as they take part in a rally calling on Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah border crossing, at the crossing in the southern Gaza Strip on Nov 23, 2014. Egypt reopened the Rafah border crossing
Palestinians stand behind the bars of a symbolic cage as they take part in a rally calling on Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah border crossing, at the crossing in the southern Gaza Strip on Nov 23, 2014. Egypt reopened the Rafah border crossing with Gaza on Wednesday for the first time since its closure in late October after a bombing in the Sinai Peninsula, officials said. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

CAIRO (AFP) - Egypt reopened the Rafah border crossing with Gaza on Wednesday for the first time since its closure in late October after a bombing in the Sinai Peninsula, officials said.  

The crossing, which is the only access point to the Palestinian territory not controlled by Israel, will open for four hours on both Wednesday and Thursday, a government official said.

“The crossing is being opened for two days to help traffic mainly from Egypt to Gaza,” the official said, suggesting that for now the reopening was only temporary.  

The United Nations says more than 3,500 Palestinians have been stranded on the Egyptian side since the crossing was closed after a suicide attack killed 30 soldiers in the North Sinai on Oct 24.

The attack, in an agricultural area northwest of provincial capital El-Arish, was the deadliest assault on Egyptian security forces since the army deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.  

The closure of the crossing has also prevented thousands of Gazans from accessing medical treatment or higher education in Egypt and beyond, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in its Nov 17 bulletin.  

During the first six months of the year, when the crossing was closed for a total of 22 days, an average of 6,400 people crossed each month, it added.