Egypt-Gaza border crossing opens under Palestinian Authority control
Egypt opened its largely sealed border with the Gaza Strip on Saturday for the first time since a reconciliation agreement saw the Palestinian Authority take control of the crossing from Hamas.
It is the first time that a Gaza border crossing has run under the control of the Palestinian Authority since 2007, when it was brutally ousted from the coastal enclave by Islamist Hamas following an election dispute that resulted in a near-civil war.
A Palestinian official at the Rafah border crossing said it had opened at 0700 GMT and was expected to stay open for three days on a humanitarian basis.
"Egypt will open the crossing for humanitarian cases registered with the interior ministry," the official said, adding that civilian and security personnel on the Palestinian side were all employees of the reconciliation government headed by Rami Hamdallah.
Up to 20,000 people from Gaza have applied to enter Egypt during the brief re-opening.
Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip had been totally sealed since August, and was largely closed for years before that.
Under the terms of a Palestinian reconciliation agreement reached last month, Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas are supposed to cede all civil powers to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority by December 1.
As a first step, they handed over control of its border crossings on November 1.
The Egypt-brokered deal is expected to lead to more regular opening of the Rafah crossing.
The head of the Palestinian Authority's security services Majid Faraj held talks with senior Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar in Gaza on Friday.
All Palestinian factions are due to meet in Cairo next week to discuss ways to move the reconciliation deal forward.
Both Israel and Egypt have maintained blockades of Gaza for years, arguing that they are necessary to isolate Hamas.
(Staff with AFP)
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