Gazans wait to cross into Egypt through Rafah border crossing
Gazans wait to cross into Egypt through Rafah border crossingAbed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Ahmed Bahar, the deputy chairman of the Palestinian Arab parliament and a senior Hamas figure, confirmed on Wednesday that understandings were reached between Hamas and the Egyptian authorities regarding the permanent opening of the Rafah crossing.

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 crossingseveral times since that attack, mostly for the passage of humanitarian cases.

Egypt blames Hamas terrorists for providing the weapons for the lethal 2014 attack, which killed 30 soldiers, through one of its smuggling tunnels under the border to Sinai. Hamas denies the allegations.

Speaking Wednesday with the Hamas-affiliated Palestine newspaper, Bahar expressed hope that the new understandings with Egypt will be implemented. “If this indeed happens, it will bring an end to the problem of human suffering of students and patients," he said.

Implementation of the understandings, he continued, would also solve the economic problems through mutual trade, which would be bolstered by the establishment of an industrial zone on the border between Egypt and Gaza. Bahar added that trade between Gaza and Egypt is currently between $1-2 billion a year.

He ruled out the possibility that Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas's recent visit to Cairo would negatively affect the understandings, since the Egyptians understand the needs of Gaza and "Hamas is also concerned about Egypt's security."