A Gaza woman waits at Rafah for a travel permit to cross into Egypt, June 14..
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
On Tuesday, Hamas agreed for the first time to hand over control of the Rafah border crossing, which is the only gateway to the outside world the Gazans have, to a national committee that will be composed of the Palestinian factions and will be accountable to the Palestinian government.
The question of who will manage the border crossing currently controlled by Egypt – Hamas or the Palestinian Authority – has been controversial among the Palestinians since Hamas seized control over Gaza in June 2007. Hamas has insisted on being part of the management of the crossing since then.
In a press statement on Tuesday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri pointed out that Hamas now does not insist on its presence at the Rafah border crossing and that it welcomes the Palestinian government’s arrival in Gaza to assume its duties in the management of the crossing and other issues.
However, on Wednesday, the Palestinian government responded to Hamas' offer, saying that its only aim is to continue foot-dragging on the issue, and blaming the movement for failing to hold up its obligations in Gaza and ignoring the suffering of Gazans.
Since the 2013 Egyptian coup d'état in which president Mohammad Morsi was ousted by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egyptian authorities have kept the border crossing almost totally closed.
Thirteen days into 2016, the Rafah border crossing has been closed and Gazans lack supplies of basic goods such as gas and electricity. Currently, the chances of the crossing being reopened are low, given Egypt's declaration that it will not open it before the fifth anniversary of the 2011 uprising.
Meanwhile, outraged Gazans choose to let off steam through social media networks, as many compare the blockade of the Gaza Strip imposed by Israel and Sisi's regime to the blockade of the Syrian town of Madaya, imposed by Assad and Hezbollah.