Rafah crossing to open in both directions on Tuesday, Hamas says
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Rafah crossing to open in both directions on Tuesday, Hamas says

Gaza-Egypt terminal has not been open to exit and entry since the Palestinian Authority withdrew its employees from there on January 6

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas stand guard at the Rafah border crossing, in the Southern Gaza Strip on January 8, 2019. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas stand guard at the Rafah border crossing, in the Southern Gaza Strip on January 8, 2019. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip will open in both directions on Tuesday, the Hamas-run Interior Ministry said in a statement on its website on Monday, citing Egyptian authorities.

The crossing, the sole pedestrian passageway between Egypt and Gaza, has not been open to Palestinians wishing to depart the coastal enclave since the Palestinian Authority withdrew its employees from there.

The PA pulled its employees from the crossing on January 6, after accusing Hamas of “summoning, arresting, and abusing” them, the official PA news site Wafa reported at the time.

The Hamas-run Interior Ministry’s statement on its website did not say when the crossing would close.

But al-Risala, a Hamas-linked newspaper, reported that the ministry said it would remain open for three days.

Hamas has controlled Gaza since it ousted the Fatah-dominated PA in 2007 from the territory.

However, the PA took control of the crossing in November 2017 as a part of an Egyptian-brokered deal between Hamas and Fatah to advance reconciliation efforts, which the rival parties have since almost entirely failed to implement.

Fatah’s Azzam al-Ahmad, right, and Saleh al-Arouri, left, of Hamas talk to journalists after signing a reconciliation deal in Cairo on October 12, 2017, as the two rival Palestinian movements ended their decade-long split following negotiations overseen by Egypt. (AFP/Khaled Desouki)

For a substantial part of the past decade, Egypt has kept the Rafah crossing closed to Palestinians hoping to leave and enter the Strip.

But in August 2018, approximately a year after the PA took control of Rafah, Egypt decided to permit the crossing to be open on a regular basis in both directions, providing a lifeline to the coastal enclave’s two million residents.

Egyptian authorities have also recently allowed for a number of goods including cooking oil, cement, and benzene to enter Gaza through a gate between Egypt and the coastal enclave.

Israel maintains significant restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza.

Israeli officials hold that their restrictions contribute to preventing Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza from harming its security.

Since the PA withdrew its employees, a number of Hamas and other Gaza-base officials have said that Egyptian authorities told them the crossing would reopen on a regular basis in the near future.

AFP contributed to this report.

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