Gaza's border crossing into Egypt opens for first time in a decade

Frederick Owens
November 19, 2017

The opening of the Rafah crossing is the first since the Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation of the Palestinian two main political parties, Fatah and Hamas.

Hamas quit positions at three Gaza crossings and handed them over to Palestinian Authority employees on November 1, in a step seen as vital to encouraging Israel and Egypt to ease their restrictions on the movement of goods and people.

The switching of control of border security on the Palestinian side from Hamas to the Palestinian Authority is part of a reconciliation agreement reached in Cairo in October between Palestinian factions.

According to the report, "the PA's insistence is created to ensure that Israel can not escape responsibility for the Gaza as its occupying power, even at the expense of Palestinian independence".

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Azzam al-Ahmad, an adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas, said Wednesday that Egypt cited "special circumstances" for delaying the Rafah crossing's opening. When Hamas ousted Fatah from Gaza in 2007, the border officially closed and it has not regularly operated since.

Last week, Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar stated that his organization doesn't intend to dismantle the military wing: "We, as a nation, are still in the process of national liberation and we can not give up our weapons".

Both Israel and Egypt have maintained blockades of Gaza for years, arguing that they are necessary to isolate Hamas.

It has fought three wars with Israel since 2008 and the blockaded Gaza Strip has seen deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

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