GAZA, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- Egypt reopened its Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip after seven days of closure, allowing a limited number of people to leave and return to the Palestinian coastal enclave through its main border terminal.
Rafah's reopening came as Hamas, the Islamic movement that controls Gaza, warned of medical crisis induced by the frequent closure since the Egyptian army toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, a patron to Hamas.
The terminal was last closed on Sept. 11 following a deadly attack at a military intelligence facility in the Egyptian side of Rafah town. Even when the crossing was open, it operated at less than half of its capacity.
After Rafah's reopening on Wednesday, Egypt allows a daily average of 300 people to leave Gaza, compared to about 1,000 before the ouster of Morsi.
However, "there are 5,000 humanitarian cases registered for travel and we can't manage to get them all out due to the limited quota each day," said Maher Abu Sabha, director of the Palestinian side of the crossing.
Hamas Minister of Health Mufid Al-Mukhalalati said the frequent closure affected medical supplies to Gaza, as Hamas gets part of its international medical aid through convoys that enter the enclave from Egypt.
"We used to get 30 percent of drugs and medical supplies via Rafah" and about 1,000 Gaza patients used to travel for treatment in Egypt every month, said Al-Mukhalalati, adding that Gaza has run out 145 kinds of medicine.
On Wednesday, five buses carrying patients and holders of foreign residency permits left Gaza in the third hour after the crossing was open, a Hamas official said, noting the terminal was open for only four hours every day.
Students wishing to return to universities in Egypt scuffled with the Hamas police, who could only allow travelers in humanitarian cases to pass the crossing Wednesday, in addition to those affected by the closure last week.
The Egyptian measures, prompted by the rise of insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula that borders Gaza, deepened the isolation of the Palestinian enclave from the rest of the world.
Moreover, Egypt has stepped up its clampdown on the smuggling tunnels beneath its border with Gaza, which are a prime channel for Hamas' incoming finance.
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