Last updated: 25 August, 2012

Egypt reopens Gaza crossing

Egypt decided on Saturday to reopen a border crossing with Gaza it had mostly kept closed since a militant attack killed 16 of its soldiers on August 5, the official MENA news agency reported.

It said the Rafah border crossing, the Palestinian territory’s only passage which bypasses Israel, would return to opening six days a week, like before the attack.

Egypt allowed only a trickle of Palestinians to use the crossing to enter Gaza after the attack in Sinai that the military said took place under the cover of mortar fire from Gaza.

The attack on an army outpost came as Egypt’s new president, the Islamist Mohamed Morsi, was seen as making overtures to Gaza’s Islamist Hamas rulers, who had strained relations with his overthrown predecessor Hosni Mubarak.

It prompted an unprecedented military campaign in the Sinai peninsula, a haven for the Islamist militants believed to have carried out the attack, and a crackdown on smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Gaza.

Security officials said on Saturday that military engineers have blocked 120 tunnels since the start of the operation.

Egyptian officials have charged that some of the 35 gunmen who stormed the army post had crossed from Gaza through the network of smuggling tunnels that run under the border.

But Gaza’s Hamas rulers have said no Palestinians are suspected of involvement in the attack.