- The Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt is the sole route for aid to enter Gaza directly from outside Israel and the only exit that does not lead to Israeli territory.
- It has become a focus in the intensifying conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have headed towards south Gaza after Israel warned them to leave Gaza City and the enclave’s north.
Where is the Rafah crossing and who controls it?
- The crossing is at the south of the Gaza Strip, a narrow slither of land that is home to 2.3 million people and wedged between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea.
- The crossing is controlled by Egypt.
Why has the crossing become so important?
- In response to a devastating cross-border infiltration by Hamas fighters on Oct. 7 that killed over 1,300 Israelis, Israel has imposed a “total blockade” of Gaza, cutting off electricity to the territory and stopping all supplies of food and fuel.
- That means the only likely route for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza is via Rafah from Egypt’s Sinai region. It is also the only exit point for Gaza residents seeking to flee.
- Foreign passport holders are expected to be allowed out under any deal to reopen the crossing, and have therefore headed in recent days to the vicinity, seeking to exit.
- Israel has also called on Gazans to move southwards closer to Rafah to shelter from bombardment, although residents say they cannot find safety anywhere in the crowded enclave.
Syllabus: Prelims; Places in news