In a historic moment for Palestinians, a border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt has reopened, meaning they can travel abroad freely for the first time since 1967. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas officially declared the Rafah Terminal open, marking a key step in his people’s struggle for statehood. The move follows lengthy negotiations with Israelis, who fear militants will use the crossing to smuggle weapons into Gaza.
All other borders around Gaza and the West Bank are controlled by Israel. It regularly closes crossings in response to security threats or terror attacks. The Rafah terminal will be monitored by the European Union in its first mission of this kind in the region. Israel will also keep an eye on movements through a video link.
Until its withdrawal from Gaza in September, Israel had controlled the border, regularly searching the 5,000 Palestinians using the crossing every day. When it pulled out, Israel shut the terminal down until US-led talks finally forced an agreement on the reopening 10 days ago. Palestinians will be able to cross at Rafah from Saturday.