In first since 2007, Gaza’s border with Egypt opens under PA control

In first since 2007, Gaza’s border with Egypt opens under PA control

Cairo opens Rafah crossing for three days on a humanitarian basis, though schedule for permanent use unclear

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — Gaza’s border crossing into Egypt is running under the Palestinian Authority’s control for the first time in a decade.

Egypt opened the Rafah crossing point Saturday for three days on a humanitarian basis for the first time since Hamas ceded control of Gaza’s crossings with Israel and Egypt to the Western-backed PA.

In 2007, Hamas wrested control of Gaza by force, provoking an Israeli-Egyptian blockade that severely restricted the movement of most of Gaza’s 2 million inhabitants.

Hamas, a terrorist group which seeks Israel’s destruction, withdrew from the crossings on November 1, implementing the first step of an Egyptian-brokered deal to end the rift with PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.

The day the PA retook control of Gaza’s crossings, it announced the Rafah crossing would be permanently reopened on November 15, after years of Cairo allowing only intermittent exit through the vital passageway.

However, the crossing has remained closed until Saturday, and it was not clear when the permanent reopening would take place.

Talks are to resume in Cairo this month to discuss the PA’s expansion of its rule over Gaza and broader national issues. The PA is supposed to retake full civil control of the Gaza Strip by December 1, ending 10 years of Hamas rule over the enclave.

The hold-up at the border is apparently due to ongoing disagreements between the PA and Hamas over security arrangements in the Strip.

Hamas is refusing to disarm its military wing as Abbas wants.

PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has said a number of times that his ministries could not govern the Strip without full control over security.

The PA wants to implement a 2005 agreement that would see European observers stationed at the Rafah Crossing, as well as security coordination with Israel.

Security in the Sinai Peninsula, where Egyptian security forces have been fighting a branch of the Islamic State group, is also thought to be one of Cairo’s concerns.



Dov Lieber and AFP contributed to this report. 

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