Since former President Hosni Mubarak’s days, the Egyptian authorities have alternated between opening and closing the Rafah crossing — the only remaining gate to Gaza not controlled by the Israeli side.
Since 2010, the crossing was usually open to a limited number of individuals, while the exchange of material and commercial goods was restricted.
After briefly closing the border during the January 25, 2011 revolution, the government reopened it in 2011 under the same conditions.
These conditions improved slightly under the rule of deposed Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi and a greater number of individuals were allowed through.
Since Morsi’s removal on July 3, 2013 and Egypt’s increased hostility toward Hamas, activity through the crossing has diminished, prompting outcry from Palestinians.
The crossing has only been opened for a few days at a time since the summer of 2013, usually for only four hours a day in most cases and with severe restrictions. Only humanitarian cases, students and non-Palestinians have been allowed to cross the Rafah border.
Terrorist attacks in the embattled peninsula often prompted authorities to close the border, while in other cases the decision came with no explanation.
Mada Masr created a timeline of the opening and closing of the Rafah crossing since July 3, 2013.
July 5: Following a series of attacks on security checkpoints in North Sinai, the authorities closed the crossing for security reasons.
July 7: The crossing was opened exceptionally for Palestinians caught on the Egyptian side of the border. For the rest of July, the crossing was opened exceptionally for a few days throughout July, allowing passage for humanitarian cases and non-Palestinians.
August 8-11: The crossing was closed for Eid vacation.
August 12: Reopened on an emergency basis, for limited hours and allowing limited number to pass.
August 19: Closed until further notice after 25 soldiers were killed in an RPG attack on two cars on the Arish-Rafah road.
August 24: Crossing partially reopened for four hours a day, and for exceptional cases.
September 7: Hamas stated that Egypt closed the crossing without announcing when it would reopen.
September 11: The crossing closed indefinitely following the bombing of a military intelligence building in Rafah, which killed 11 people and injured 17 others.
September 18: Following negotiations between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian officials, the crossing was opened for two days for medical cases and students as the start of the academic year neared.
September 21: Hamas said the Egyptian authorities reclosed the crossing indefinitely.
September 28: The crossing partially opened for three days after an eight-day closure. However, Hamas said that the Egyptian side was too strict, and Palestinians protested on the Gaza side against the slow procedures. The opening was then extended to October 4.
October 8: The crossing opened for five days for students and medical cases.
October 19: The crossing opened for a week for Palestinians to return home after performing hajj.
October 26: The crossing closed once again until further notice.
November 2: The crossing partially reopened after a week’s closure.
November 7: The crossing closed for 12 days. The Egyptian ambassador in Palestine says it’s because of the critical security situation in Egypt.
November 19: The crossing opened partially for three days
November 22: The crossing closed until further notice.
November 27: After calls between Abbas and Egyptian intelligence, the crossing opened for two days in both directions.
November 29: The crossing closed until further notice.
December 8: After protests from medical teams on the Palestinian side, the Egyptian authorities announced the opening of the crossing for three days, then extended it for two more days.
December 24: The crossing opened for three days, then closed again.
January-April: According to the official Facebook page for the Palestinian government’s travel registration unit, the beginning of the year witnessed severe restrictions as the crossing was opened for only 12 days and closed for 78 days between January and April.
July 7: The same Facebook page reported that in 2014 the crossing was opened for 14 days and closed for 172 days.
April 29: The crossing opened for two days then closed again until further notice.
May 4: The crossing opened exceptionally for two days for the return of Palestinians after hajj. The crossing was closed through presidential elections at the end of the month.
June 1: The crossing opened for three days in Gaza’s direction
June 15: After 45 days when humanitarian cases were not allowed to pass through the crossing, it opened for four days. The first two days for Palestinians going to perform Islamic rituals in Saudi and second two days for medical cases and those with Egyptian residencies close to expiry.
July 10: Two days after the start of the Israeli offensive on Gaza, the crossing was opened only for Egyptians.
July 12: The crossing opens for the injured. On July 20 the travel registry unit said that the opening of the crossing is only decorative — it remains largely closed to Palestinians and doesn’t respond to their minimum needs during the crisis. The unit said that since the start of the attacks, 2,764 Egyptians and non-Palestinians were allowed to pass through the crossing, while only 18 Palestinian injured went through.
July 28: The Palestinian travel registration unit says the crossing remained practically closed to Palestinians on 21st day of the Israeli attack, and only 70 injured were given safe passage through the crossing.
July 28: The crossing opened to Egyptians and closed to Palestinians for Eid, except for emergency medical conditions.
September-October: The crossing was opened sporadically for students.
October 25: The crossing was closed until further notice after 33 security personnel were killed in a terrorist attack in Sinai.
December 21: The crossing was opened for two days for both directions, allowing medical cases and students to pass.