The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has harshly criticized Egypt for closing the Rafah border crossing to the besieged Gaza Strip.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said in a statement on Tuesday that the move by Egypt’s military-backed government is a “crime against humanity.”
“The Egyptian authorities’ insistence on closing the Rafah crossing and tightening the Gaza blockade… is a crime against humanity by all standards and a crime against the Palestinian people,” said the Hamas spokesman.
Barhum also censured “the continuation of this blockade and closing the crossing, all whilst Israel escalates and (increases) aggression,” adding, “We hold all parties to the blockade of Gaza completely responsible for the consequences of this crime.”
The United Nations also denounced the closure and voiced concern for Palestinians in need of medical treatment in the coastal enclave.
“Extremely limited movement in and out of Gaza from (Israeli-controlled) Erez and Rafah crossings continues to afflict the civilian population, including patients awaiting medical treatment,” UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said in a briefing to the UN Security Council.
“Recurrent drug and medical equipment shortages are affecting the Gaza medical system, further increasing the number of patients seeking referral outside for medical conditions that could have been treated inside Gaza, were supplies available,” Feltman added.
The border crossing is the only lifeline for Palestinians living under the Israeli siege.
Gaza has been blockaded since June 2007, a situation that has caused a decline in the standards of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty.
The 1.7 million Palestinians of the Gaza Strip are living in what is called the world’s largest open-air prison as Israel retains full control of the airspace, territorial waters, and border crossings of the territory.
The Israeli military also frequently launches attacks in the coastal enclave, claiming the attacks are being conducted for defensive purposes. However, disproportionate force is always used, in violation of international law, and civilians are often killed or injured.