Hamas handed over the Rafah crossing on the border between Gaza and Egypt to the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday morning as part of the reconciliation agreement between the two Palestinian sides.
An Egyptian security delegation headed to the Gaza Strip to watch over the procedure. A coordination meeting with Nazmi Mehana, head of the Palestinian border authority, was held in Cairo on Monday, according to state-owned media Al-Ahram.
According to Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmad, the crossing will be inaugurated on 15 November after Egypt completes renovation, WAFA reported. The crossing had been closed for long periods, only occasionally being opened for a couple of days.
He added that the crossing will be secured through the presence of presidential guards and EU police forces according to the 2005 agreement on the EU Border Assistance Mission at Rafah Crossing Point.
Egypt brokered and concluded the reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas on 12 October, after a series of meetings in Cairo. Head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Khaled Fawzy headed to Gaza where he met with Hamas and PA officials and delivered a message from President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi while attending the PA’s first cabinet meeting there earlier in October.
The two sides are expected to continue discussions on upcoming presidential and legislative elections, the crisis of resources in Gaza, and the security situation.
Meanwhile, Hamas MP Abdel Jaber Foqha asked to “reignite the Palestinian resistance in the occupied West Bank, and to stop summoning and pursuing the Palestinian resistance fighters.”
According to the official Hamas website on Tuesday, Foqha said that “all Palestinian factions should agree on a united programme to confront the Israeli Occupation,” calling on the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) to cut relations with Israel, including security collaboration.
On Monday, at least seven Palestinians were killed when Israel destroyed a tunnel in Khan Younis through air strikes, on grounds that it led to its land. In a denouncing statement, Hamas described it as “escalation at Gaza borders leads to a new war against Gaza people.”
This came as Palestinian Maan News reported denials by presidential sources regarding statements reported Sunday by Haaretz claiming that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas vowed there would be “no government role for Hamas officials who refuse to publicly recognize Israel” while in a meeting with former Israeli lawmakers.
On Monday, The Jerusalem Post reported a meeting between Israeli Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Ramallah. The Post said that “despite anger at the recent Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement, Israel has not ruled out all contact with a Palestinian government that relies on Hamas for support, only diplomatic negotiations.”
Hamas refuses the recognition of Israel, while PM Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of the non-possibility of accepting a Palestinian reconciliation with a party that doesn’t recognise his state.