The Palestinian Authority and the Egyptian government have reached an agreement that will soon enable the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip to reopen, a Palestinian official said on Monday.
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Rafah is both Gaza’s only gateway to Egypt and its only border crossing not controlled by Israel.
Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior official in PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, said the agreement will enable the gradual reopening of Rafah so that students, workers and humanitarian cases, as well as merchandise, will be able to leave Gaza. He declined to give details about the agreement, but said it would take effect soon.
Nevertheless, it’s not clear how the agreement will be implemented, since Rafah is currently controlled by Hamas on the Gaza side. Cairo, however, has repeatedly said it won’t open the crossing unless the PA takes control of it. Moreover, a senior Egyptian diplomat stationed in Ramallah told Haaretz that he wasn’t aware of any new agreement on reopening Rafah having been reached.
Neither Hamas nor the PA would comment on this report for the record.
Rafah has largely been kept closed by Egypt since 2007, when Hamas seized control of Gaza from the PA in a bloody coup. The crossing is usually opened only a few times a year, generally for humanitarian reasons. This has made life very difficult for Gaza residents.