The Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt is the sole route for aid to enter Gaza directly from outside Israel and the only exit that does not lead to Israeli territory.
It has become a focus of the conflict between Israel and Hamas as a humanitarian crisis unfolds and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians head to south Gaza from the enclave’s north to escape Israeli bombing.
WHERE IS THE RAFAH CROSSING AND WHO CONTROLS IT?
The crossing is at the south of the Gaza Strip, a narrow slither of land that is home to 2.3 million people between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea.
It is controlled by Egypt.
WHAT HAS BEEN AGREED ON AID PASSAGE?
US President Joe Biden told reporters that about 20 trucks carrying humanitarian aid would be allowed into the enclave.
Before the current violence erupted, about 100 trucks carrying aid would enter each day, according to the United Nations.
WHY IS THE RAFAH CROSSING SO IMPORTANT IN THIS CONFLICT?
Israel has imposed a total blockade of Gaza, cutting off electricity and stopping supplies of food and fuel.
The blockade means the only likely route for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza is via Rafah from Egypt’s Sinai region. It is also the only exit point for Gaza residents seeking to flee.
WHY IS ACCESS ACROSS RAFAH RESTRICTED?
Egypt is wary of insecurity near the border with Gaza in northeastern Sinai after it faced an Islamist insurgency.
Since Hamas took control in Gaza in 2007, Egypt has helped enforce a blockade of the enclave and heavily restricted the flow of people and goods.
DOES EGYPT ALLOW PEOPLE TO CROSS FROM GAZA?
Like the main crossings with Israel, restrictions have sometimes been eased but not lifted, and travellers need security clearance and lengthy checks to pass.
Even as Israel pursues its heaviest ever bombardment of Gaza in response to the Hamas assault, Egypt has shown no sign so far that its approach will change.
WILL PEOPLE BE ALLOWED OUT?
Foreign passport holders, including Americans, have headed to the vicinity hoping to be allowed out under any deal, although Cairo has said aid must be delivered first.
WHY ARE ARAB STATES SO RELUCTANT TO TAKE IN PALESTINIANS?
Arab countries fear that Israel’s war with Hamas could spark a new wave of permanent displacement from land where Palestinians hope to build a state.
President Sisi has said it is vital that Palestinians ‘remain steadfast and present on their land’ and that ‘what is happening now in Gaza is an attempt to force civilian residents to take refugee and migrate to Egypt, which should not be accepted.’