Hamas takes control of Egypt-Gaza border

As Palestinian Authority officers withdraw, Hamas takes control of Gaza-Egypt border crossing.

AFP,

Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza
Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza
Flash 90

Hamas employees retook control of the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt on Monday after the Palestinian Authority withdrew its own staff, an AFP journalist and Hamas
officials said.

The PA's civil affairs authority had on Sunday accused Hamas of "summoning, arresting and abusing our employees", leading it to conclude that their presence was futile, according to official Palestinian Authority news agency WAFA.

An AFP journalist saw Hamas officials at the border crossing's main gate and inside accompanying offices in southern Gaza on Monday.

A Hamas border official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they had taken control "to avoid a vacuum".

Rafah -- the only way for Gazans to leave their enclave that bypasses Israel -- was closed Monday due to the Orthodox Christmas holiday but it was not clear whether it would reopen as scheduled on Tuesday.

Hamas' interior ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bozum said his organization "will protect the interests of our people."

While the Hamas terror organization controls the coastal enclave, the Palestinian Authority took control of Rafah in November 2017, as part of a deal for Egypt to reopen a border that had been entirely shut from August that year and largely sealed for years before that.

There was no immediate comment from Egypt about whether its side of the crossing would be open Tuesday.

The PA's taking control of Rafah in 2017 had been seen as a first step towards implementing a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah.

The deal has subsequently broken down and Abbas' PA has taken a series of measures against Gaza.

Egypt has allowed the border to be open regularly since August 2018, providing a lifeline to the enclave's residents.


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