Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has taken the rare decision to open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza for the entire holy month of Ramadan after Israel killed some 60 Palestinian protesters in the enclave this week.
The decision was made “to alleviate the suffering” of residents in the Palestinian territory, Sisi said on Facebook late Thursday.
The Rafah crossing is the Gaza Strip’s only gateway to the outside world not controlled by Israel, but Egypt has largely sealed it in recent years, citing security threats.
The last extended opening lasted three weeks in 2013. Usually Palestinians are able to cross for a few dozen days a year.
Previous openings of the crossing have been cut short by violence in the Sinai peninsula, or with authorities giving other reasons.
Sisi’s announcement came after some 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire on Gaza’s frontier on Monday, with Egypt’s foreign ministry describing the victims as “martyrs”.
At least 114 Gazans have been killed in border protests and clashes since March 30, prior to the controversial opening Monday of the US embassy in Jerusalem after Washington recognised the disputed city as capital of Israel.
Egypt has relations with both Israel and Gaza’s rulers Hamas, giving Cairo an instrumental role in mediating between the two sides and alleviating pressure on the territory’s two million residents.