GAZA, (Reuters) – The main border crossing between the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and Egypt was temporarily opened on Saturday under a deal between the Islamist group and Cairo, Palestinian officials said.
The crossing at Rafah had been largely closed since early February, when Egypt resealed the border after Hamas gunmen blasted it open in defiance of an Israeli-led blockade of the coastal enclave.
With U.S. backing, Egypt has been trying to broker an unofficial truce between Israel and Hamas to stop violence that has imperilled peace talks. That proposed deal calls for Rafah to reopen under Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s’ control.
Saturday’s opening would allow Palestinians wounded in clashes with Israel, and other medical cases, to leave Gaza for treatment, Hamas officials said. They said the crossing would remain opened for two further days, in which Gazans stranded in the Egyptian Sinai since the January border breach would be allowed to return. Palestinians with other nationalities would also have the option of leaving.
Under a U.S.-brokered deal, European Union monitors had been stationed at Rafah until Hamas Islamists took control of Gaza last June after routing Fatah forces loyal to Abbas.
A European diplomatic source said earlier this week that EU would not be at the crossing during its temporary reopening.