Egypt has reportedly agreed to permanently reopen its border crossing with the Gaza Strip if Hamas reins in clashes with Israeli troops.
The Rafah crossing was shuttered in early January after the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority withdrew its employees there, though it was again opened in both directions on Tuesday.
According to the Ynet news site, Egypt’s offer was relayed to Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh during a Friday meeting in Gaza with Egyptian intelligence officials and Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s Middle East envoy.
Quoting unnamed Palestinian sources, the report said the reopening of the crossing on a permanent basis was intended to give Hamas a concession significant enough to restrain violent protests along the border between Gaza and Egypt.
Speaking at the opening of a mosque on Friday in Gaza City, Haniyeh did not comment on the reported offer but called the trilateral meeting “unprecedented.”
“Gaza is… an area of political interest because what is happening in Gaza affects the general Palestinian scene and what happens, and what will happen, in Gaza affects our region,” he said before returning to talks with UN and Egyptian officials.
For the past several months, Egypt, the UN and Qatar have worked to preserve calm in Gaza and prevent flareups between Israel and terror groups in the Strip.
Since last March, the Gaza border has seen large-scale weekly clashes on Fridays, and smaller protests along the northern Gaza border on Tuesdays as well as periodic flareups between the Israeli military and Palestinian terror organizations.
Gaza is controlled by Hamas, a terror group sworn to Israel’s destruction.
On Friday, the IDF said some 10,000 Palestinians took part in violent protests along the border, burning tires and hurling rocks and explosive devices at Israeli soldiers. Troops responded to the demonstrators with tear gas and occasional live fire.
The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said 23 protesters were injured by live fire in the clashes and a female paramedic was hit in the face with a tear gas canister.