Hamas is considering handing off control of the crossings along its borders with Egypt and Israel to private companies in Gaza, a Hamas official said Saturday.
The move is meant to combat a deepening economic crisis in the coastal enclave by creating more jobs and streamlining the transfer of goods through the crossings, according to Hamas Economy Minister Alaa Rafati.
“Running the crossings will be the mission of the private sector,” Rafati said, according to the Xinua news agency. “The government’s role is to present policies, make laws and legislation, and create a proper atmosphere for the operation of the crossings.”
Such a move would have to be coordinated with the Palestinian Authority, which said it has not received an official request from Hamas.
Gaza’s economy has suffered greatly in recent months since the Egyptian military launched a campaign late in 2013 to close down smuggling tunnels that were a vital source of income, gas and other goods for Hamas and residents of Gaza.
The territory has been under a tight blockade by Israel that limits the amount of vital building materials and gas, among other goods, since Hamas took power in a violent putsch in 2007.
In November, Gaza’s only electricity plant was forced to stop operating due to a fuel shortage.