By Viola Fahmi
CAIRO (AA) - Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah border crossing linking Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to the blockaded Gaza Strip on Monday to allow the return of Palestinians stuck on the Egyptian side, Palestinian officials said.
“The crossing will only be opened for one day and in one direction [from Egypt to Gaza]," Gaza's Crossings and Borders Authority said in a statement.
The crossing, it added, would be opened briefly to allow the return of Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side of the crossing.
In a separate statement issued earlier, the Palestinian embassy in Cairo said the Egyptian authorities had agreed to allow Palestinians stuck at the Cairo International Airport to return to the blockaded Gaza Strip.
"Embassy staff will make arrangements for the safe repatriation of [Palestinian] citizens to Gaza," the statement read.
The statement did not provide the number of Palestinians stranded at the airport.
The Egyptian authorities, meanwhile, have yet to confirm the information conveyed in the two statements.
On Sunday, the Palestinian embassy announced the establishment of a "crisis committee" tasked with securing the return to Gaza of Palestinians stranded at the airport since Feb. 9.
The Gaza Strip, which has groaned under a crippling Israeli-Egyptian air/land/sea blockade since 2007, 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 former President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected leader, was ousted in a 2013 military coup.
Israel sealed four of its commercial crossings with Gaza in mid-2007 after Palestinian resistance group Hamas wrested control of the coastal strip from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.