Ramallah- Egyptian authorities have reopened the Rafah crossing for Palestinians residing in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip for the first time in 2017. Officials said the crossing is expected to remain open for the next three days.
Hamas hailed the improvement established after senior political leader of Hamas Ismail Haniyeh, returned from his meeting in Cairo’s Director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate (EGID) Khaled Fawzy.
Hamas called the Haniyeh’s visit to Cairo “successful” – this visit is the first by the group’s top leader in over three years, according to Egypt’s state-run news agency.
As a condition for the Egypt-Hamas ties to continue going north, Fawzy demanded a greater cooperation from Hamas with respect to Egypt’s national security, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat. More talks will be held in an effort to outline Egyptian demands and the manner in which they would be responded to.
Sources have also revealed that Hamas will be stepping up border security, aiming to curb any influx or infiltration of extremists from or to Egypt. Such an upgrade is expected to regulate the arms market, and inhibit any Sinai-Gaza trade.
Extremists continue to hold land pockets and strongholds across the Sinai Peninsula, serving as a land bridge between Asia and Africa. It is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia.
Egyptian authorities have kept the Rafah crossing virtually sealed since a terrorist attack in the Sinai Peninsula in October 2014, though they have temporarily reopened the crossing several times since that attack, mostly for the passage of humanitarian cases.
The crossing in northern Sinai, which will be opened for traffic in both directions, is the only way for 1.8 million Palestinians living in Gaza to enter and exit the strip.
Gaza has been under Israeli siege since 2006. The crossing was last opened temporarily in mid-December 2016.