Egypt opens Gaza border crossing for 3 days under PA control

Palestinians queue to have their travel documents checked as they go through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on Saturday. (AFP / SAID KHATIB
Updated 18 November 2017
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Egypt opens Gaza border crossing for 3 days under PA control

RAFAH, Gaza Strip: Gaza’s border crossing into Egypt ran Saturday under the Palestinian Authority’s control for the first time in a decade, in a step forward for the Western-backed leadership’s resuming of its functions in the Gaza Strip.
Egypt opened the Rafah crossing point for three days on a humanitarian basis for the first time since the militant Hamas group ceded control of Gaza’s crossings with Israel and Egypt to the West Bank-based PA. In 2007, Hamas wrested control of Gaza by force after winning legislative elections a year earlier, provoking an Israeli-Egyptian blockade that severely restricted the movement of most of Gaza’s 2 million inhabitants.
Hamas has wielded absolute power in Gaza since, driving its humanitarian conditions to near-total collapse. On Nov. 1, it withdrew from the crossings to implement the first step of an Egyptian-brokered deal to end the rift with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party. Talks are to resume in Cairo this month to discuss the PA’s expansion of its rule in Gaza and broader national issues.
The three-day opening was aimed toward reducing the number of people stranded on both sides, nearly 80 days since Gaza’s prime crossing was last open. No agreement has been reached to run the crossing on a regular basis. The PA wants to reactivate a 2005 US-backed protocol stipulating that PA forces and EU monitors run the crossing. Hamas rejects the deal since it also gives Israel partial control via video cameras.
Hamas says 30,000 people have been waiting for a chance to travel. Thus far, Rafah has opened for people exiting Gaza only 17 days this year.
Rania Arada, 21, came to visit her family in Gaza a year ago when she was pregnant, hoping to stay for a month. Today, her daughter is eight months and has yet to see her Egyptian father. “Her father is very sad. I’m also sad that he was not by my side when I gave birth,” she said, waiting for a bus Saturday.
Another woman, 19-year-old Suhad Rizek, said she hoped she could get through to attend the Egyptian university she had enrolled in to study medicine. “School has started and I’m almost losing this term,” she said.


Israel reopens people, goods crossings to Gaza

Updated 14 min 40 sec ago
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Israel reopens people, goods crossings to Gaza

  • Hamas disavowed the launch and said it was investigating the incident, as fears of a new war rose
  • Near daily protests along the border since March 30 against Israel’s crippling 11-year blockade of the impoverished enclave have sparked repeated clashes with the army

JERUSALEM: Israel ordered the country’s goods and people border crossings with Gaza to be opened on Sunday, just four days after shuttering them following a Palestinian rocket attack that sparked retaliatory strikes.
“The decision comes after a decrease in the violent events in Gaza over the weekend and efforts (militant Islamist Gaza rulers) Hamas made to restrain” demonstrators, a statement from Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman office read.
On Wednesday, Lieberman had ordered the closure of the Kerem Shalom goods crossing and the Erez crossing for people, after a rocket from the Palestinian territory hit a home in southern Israel, prompting the Jewish state to strike 20 Hamas targets in Gaza.
Hamas disavowed the launch and said it was investigating the incident, as fears of a new war rose.
Near daily protests along the border since March 30 against Israel’s crippling 11-year blockade of the impoverished enclave have sparked repeated clashes with the army.
On Friday, thousands again gathered for protests in northern Gaza, but demonstrators largely remained at least 100 meters (yards) from the border.
Hamas officials were seen discouraging protesters from nearing the fence.
Israel had on Wednesday also suspended the delivery of fuel for the Palestinian territory’s power plant that had been trucked daily into Gaza under a deal brokered by the United Nations.
“The decision on the renewal of the fuel from Qatar has been put off as for the time being, and will be examined in a number of days based on the events,” the Sunday statement from Lieberman said.