Gaza’s Interior Ministry spokesman said Friday that Egyptian authorities have informed Gaza authorities of the shutdown of the Rafah border crossing, without providing a reason.
Spokesman Iyad Al-Buzm said in a statement posted on the Interior Ministry’s website that he “regrets the Egyptian side’s move”. This comes after the Border Crossings Authority prepared vehicles and ambulances, “only to be surprised” by the closure.
The Palestinian Border Crossings Authority had said that Egypt will extend opening the border crossing to include Friday, independent Ma’an News Agency reported.
The Rafah border crossing connects the Egypt with the Gaza Strip, which has been under siege since 2007 when Islamist militant group Hamas took over. On 7 July, Israel launched a military operation on Gaza dubbed, “Operation Protective Edge” to “to stop Hamas rocket fire at Israel.”
Palestinian Health Ministry Spokesman Ashraf Al-Qedra said on Friday afternoon that the death toll had climbed to 101 and that over 700 were injured.
The Palestinian Embassy in Cairo said in a statement Thursday that 11 injured people were able to cross into Egypt where they received medical care in Egyptian hospitals. The Embassy had formed an emergency committee headed by Ambassador Gamal Al-Shobaky to receive the injured and follow up on their treatment in Egyptian hospitals.
The Israeli operation comes shortly after the bodies of three Israeli teenagers were found by the IDF near Hebron on 30 June. The three, Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Sha’er went missing for 18 days before their bodies were found. The IDF has blamed “Hamas terrorists” for their kidnap and murder.
Two days after they were found, the body of a 17 year old Palestinian boy, Mohamed Abu Khudeir, was found, after he was burned alive.
Egyptian authorities have mostly kept the Rafah border crossing shut down since July 2013. They have launched a campaign destroying the illegal, underground tunnels which have been vital in supplying Gaza residents with food, medicine, fuel and building materials.
The last major Israeli operation on the Gaza Strip took place in November, 2012 and was dubbed by Israel as Operation Pillar of Defence. It lasted a week but ended after a ceasefire agreement was reached. Then-President Mohamed Morsi was instrumental in brokering the ceasefire which stated that Israel will stop all hostilities in the Gaza Strip and that Palestinian factions will completely stop firing rockets at Israel.