Egypt re-closed its border with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Friday after having opened it to Palestinian pilgrims for the last four days, according to Gaza’s border authority.

On Monday, the Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah border crossing — which links the blockaded strip to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula — to allow Gazan pilgrims into Egypt from where they might travel to Saudi Arabia.

The annual Hajj pilgrimage is set to begin later this month in the Saudi cities of Mecca and Medina, where more than two million Muslim pilgrims are expected to take part in the ritual this year.

In a related development, a Palestinian NGO said Friday that the Egyptian authorities had stopped an Algerian humanitarian-aid convoy from crossing into the Gaza Strip from Sinai.

“Egypt’s decision to block the entry of the aid convoy is very unfortunate and does not reflect the positive spirit that has recently characterized Gaza-Egypt relations,” the National Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza said in a press statement.

Neither the Egyptian government nor Hamas, the latter of which has governed the strip since 2007, has yet to comment on the NGO’s assertions regarding the convoy.

Blockaded by Israel by air, land and sea since 2007, the Gaza Strip has seven border crossings linking it to the outside world.

Six of these are controlled by Israel, while the seventh — the Rafah crossing — is controlled by Egypt, which has kept it tightly sealed for the most part since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected leader, in a 2013 military coup.

 

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