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Hamas say Egypt to keep Gaza border open despite PA withdrawal

Palestinian security officers stand at the closed entrance of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, July 17, 2018.
AP Photo/Adel Hana

Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas said Thursday that Egypt plans to keep its border crossing with the enclave open, days after partially closing it amid infighting between Palestinian factions.

Forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas withdrew on Sunday from the Rafah border crossing, accusing rivals Hamas of interference.

The crossing is the only way for Palestinians to leave Gaza that bypasses Israel.

Egypt has prevented Gazans from leaving the enclave since Abbas's Palestinian Authority withdrew its staff.


An Egyptian security delegation visited Gaza on Thursday, meeting with senior Hamas officials including its politburo head Ismail Haniyeh.

Israel and Egypt, the two countries that effectively control the flow of goods and people in and out of the Gaza Strip, have expressed worries about the consequences of the deepening rift between Palestinian factions on the coastal enclave.

Tensions have been building up between the two largest Palestinian political formations -- Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank -- since the end of last year, despite Egypt's attempts to broker for reconciliation.

Reports in the Palestinian and Israeli press said on Thursday that Israeli officials had contacted their Egyptian counterparts, fearing a continued stranglehold on the strip would have violent repercussions.

Khalil al-Hayya, deputy head of Hamas, told journalists the Egyptians "assured us that there will be no changes at the Rafah border and it will stay open".

Hayya said he expected that all sides would also stick to an informal truce agreement with Israel.

It was not immediately clear when the crossing would fully reopen.

Hamas employees retook the post on Monday in what they said was an attempt to maintain border control after the shock PA withdrawal.

Separately on Thursday, a senior Hamas official announced Haniyeh had put on hold a planned trip to Russia.


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