A Gaza woman waits at Rafah for a travel permit to cross into Egypt, June 14..
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
Hamas on Sunday rejected calls to let the Palestinian Authority reassert control on the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.
The statement came in response to a social media campaign urging Hamas to relinquish control over the terminal Egypt has shut for most of the year.
Last week, the Egyptian authorities reopened the terminal for 48 hours, allowing Palestinians to travel in both directions, before shutting it again on Saturday.
Since the beginning of this year, the terminal was opened for only 21 days.
The PA once controlled the Gaza side of the crossing until Hamas seized control in the coastal territory in 2007.
Salah Bardaweel, a senior Hamas official, said his movement has no intention to hand over the terminal to what he called the “filthy hands of those who have betrayed the Palestinian people,” – a reference to the PA.
Bardaweel said the crossing should be administered in accordance with previous reconciliation agreements between the Fatah-dominated PA and Hamas.
“If the talk is about placing the terminal once again under the control of these hands, we say that Hamas won’t sell its people to anyone regardless of the price,” he said.
The official claimed that many passengers from Gaza have been paying bribes to the PA in Ramallah to get permits to enter Egypt through the Rafah terminal.
“The terminal needs to be managed in a moral and national manner,” Bardaweel said. “We don’t want the chaos to return to the terminal.”
Another senior Hamas official, Musa Abu Marzouk, said that demands to either hand the terminal back to PA administration or face a continued blockade on Gaza suggests that is the reason why the terminal has remained closed for so long. Marzouk denounced the continued closure of the terminal as “genocide.” He also accused the PA of inciting the Egyptians against Hamas.