Gaza: Hamas says Rafah crossing with Egypt to briefly reopen

Border crossing to reopen for three days, weeks after Palestinian Authority pulled its staff from there.

A member of Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas stands guard at the gate of Rafah border crossing, in the southern Gaza Strip January 7, 2019
The Rafah border is main exit point for the majority of Gaza's two million population [Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters]

Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip, has said the Rafah crossing between the strip and Egypt will briefly open in both directions for the first time in three weeks amid a Palestinian political rift.

In a statement late on Monday, the Hamas-run interior ministry said the crossing would operate for three days starting on Tuesday. There has been no immediate confirmation from Egypt.

On January 6, the Palestinian Authority (PA) withdrew its staff from the border crossing and accused Hamas of “arresting and abusing” its employees while interfering with their workflows.

Egypt has since kept the border crossing completely shut to outbound Palestinians.

The Ramallah-based PA had taken over the Rafah crossing in November 2017 as part of a reconciliation deal brokered by Egypt.

At the time, Hamas said the decision was part of a PA policy to tighten the blockade on Gaza – imposed by Israel and neighbouring Egypt.

That deal has since collapsed and relations between the parties have worsened.

The Rafah border is the main exit point for the majority of Gaza’s two million population. The Erez crossing, the other exit for Palestinians in Gaza, is managed by the Israelis, who put severe limitations on the number of people who can pass through it.

Gaza has been under a land, sea and air blockade imposed by Israel since 2007 when Hamas took over power in the coastal enclave after the Palestinian faction won the parliamentary election.

Source: News Agencies