Hundreds of Palestinian men, women and children have made their way through the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt after it was officially reopened. Some had spent several nights waiting at the border. It has been reopened under Palestinian control. It is the first time the Palestinians are managing an international frontier.
The crossing – the Gaza Strip’s gateway to the outside world – plays a vital role in the area’s economy. Its opening holds great symbolism for the Palestinians, who until now have only been able to travel with Israeli permission. Under the US-brokered deal, European Union monitors are being drafted in to supervise cross-border movement at the terminal. It will open a few hours a day until the arrival of all 70 EU inspectors, expected in mid-December. Israeli officials will be able to watch the crossing via videolink to a nearby monitoring station in southern Israel. The checkpoint had been largely shut since Israel’s exit from the Gaza Strip this summer due to security concerns. Israel fears it could be used by militants to smuggle weapons into the Strip.