The United Nations on Monday expressed concern over new Hamas checks at the border between Gaza and Israel, after the Islamist group began what it said were temporary security measures.
"Reports have emerged today indicating that Hamas has set up a checkpoint outside the Erez crossing, controlling the entrance of national and international personnel into Gaza and the exit of all Gaza ID holders," UN official Nikolay Mladenov said in an address to the Security Council, according to AFP.
Mladenov, who is the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said that he noted the reports "with concern."
Hamas has ruled Gaza since it took it over from PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction in a bloody coup in 2007.
The two groups, which have been feuding ever since, signed a reconciliation agreement in October, as part of which Hamas was to transfer power in Gaza by December 1. That deadline was initially put back by 10 days and then appeared to have been cancelled altogether after it reportedly hit “obstacles”.
Following the collapse of the agreement, Hamas last week implemented new checks on Palestinians seeking to leave the enclave, saying it was searching for a fugitive.
A spokesman for the Hamas-run interior bureau in Gaza said its border measures were "temporary" and had been imposed as part of a manhunt for suspects in an attack on PA cabinet leader Rami Hamdallah's convoy.
Hamdallah was unhurt when a roadside bomb hit his convoy during a rare visit to Gaza on March 13, in which he was in part due to discuss the stalled reconciliation process.
Last week the main suspect announced by Hamas was killed by security forces during an arrest raid in Gaza.