CAIRO – Egyptian authorities have closed the Rafah border crossing with the Palestinian Gaza Strip following terror threats, the Palestinian Embassy in Cairo announced Thursday in a statement.
Initially, the Rafah border crossing was supposed to be open for four days but this changed in the wake of new threats to the crossing.
According to the embassy statement, Egyptian security forces spotted terror organizations planning to bomb buses heading to either the Rafah crossing or Cairo.
The statement also stated that the Rafah crossing is to be reopened again when these terrorists are killed or captured.
In response to the closing, the Palestinian embassy formed a crisis management team headed by Ambassador Diab al-Louh to ensure Palestinians’ safety while traveling between Egypt and Gaza.
The embassy dedicated three emergency numbers to serve Palestinians who remained in Egypt, stressing that the embassy staff is focused on keeping their citizens in Egypt safe.
Rafah serves as the main gateway to the outside world for Gaza’s nearly two million inhabitants, as it is the only crossing not controlled by Israel, which has maintained a strict blockade of the strip since 2007 when the Islamist political and military organization Hamas took control of Gaza.
The opening of the Rafah crossing comes amid an escalated Egyptian military campaign on Egypt’s side of the border in the Sinai Peninsula, which began Feb. 9 and has killed 71 alleged militants and three soldiers and led to 1,800 arrests, an Egyptian military spokesman stated on Wednesday.
On Nov. 1, Hamas formally transferred control of Gaza’s border crossings to the Palestinian Authority, its rival political faction that governs the West Bank, as part of a reconciliation agreement reached on Oct. 12 aimed at ending the two Palestinian groups’ 10-year enmity.
Hamas still maintains security control in the Gaza Strip.