Egypt opens Rafah crossing to Gaza for 3 days
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Egypt opens Rafah crossing to Gaza for 3 days

Border now opens with increased frequency, reflecting improved ties between Cairo and Hamas

Palestinians wait for travel permits to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing after it was opened by Egyptian authorities for humanitarian cases, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 11, 2017. ( AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB)
Palestinians wait for travel permits to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing after it was opened by Egyptian authorities for humanitarian cases, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 11, 2017. ( AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB)

The Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip reopened Saturday, reflecting the improved ties between Cairo and the Islamist terror organization.

The crossing will be open for three days, Israel Radio reported. Since the beginning of the year, the crossing has opened with a much greater frequency following talks between Cairo and Hamas to resolve long-simmering tensions.

Last month Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh led a delegation to Cairo, the first visit by the group’s top leader in over three years.

The visit represents a desire by both sides to rebuild trust after tension since the 2013 military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood group, Hamas’s mother movement. Authorities accused the group of supporting militants to carry out attacks in Egypt.

For most of the past decade, Egypt has been a quiet partner with Israel in the blockade on Hamas-ruled Gaza, stifling the economy and largely blocking its 2 million people from moving in and out of the territory.

Israel imposes the blockade to prevent Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in 2007 and avowedly seeks to destroy the Jewish state, from importing weaponry.

In recent weeks, Cairo has increased the number of people allowed to exit through the Rafah Border Crossing, Gaza’s main gateway to the outside world. It also has begun to allow Gaza to import commercial goods through Rafah for the first time since 2013, and sent public signals that it is interested in improving relations.

Haniyeh left Gaza in September to perform the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca — the first time Egypt allowed him to leave the territory since Morsi’s ouster. He then went to Qatar to see Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.

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