Hamas calls on Egypt to reopen Rafah crossing

Fatah officials in West Bank call on Palestinians in Gaza to follow Egyptian example and remove Hamas from power.

July 8, 2013 00:45
2 minute read.
Egyptian Army soldiers guard gates of Sinai Gaza closed border crossing, May 20, 2012.

Rafah border crossing Sinai Gaza370. (photo credit: Reuters)

The Hamas government on Sunday called on the Egyptian authorities to reopen the Rafah border crossing, which was closed on Friday following a spate of terror attacks against Egyptian security forces in Sinai.

The rival Fatah faction in the West Bank, meanwhile, is using the closure of the border crossing to incite Palestinians against Hamas.

Over the past few days, some Fatah officials have called on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to copy the Egyptian model and remove Hamas from power.

Ehab Ghissin, spokesman for the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, said that the Rafah terminal “should stay out of the political conflict in Egypt.”

He said that while Hamas understands Egypt’s security concerns, “there is no reason why the Rafah border crossing should be closed, hindering the movement of Palestinian residents.”

The closure of the Rafah terminal, he added, “intensifies the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.”

Ghissin said that hundreds of Palestinians remain stranded on both sides of the border because of the Egyptian decision to close the terminal.

He said that reopening the terminal would have no effect on the security situation in Egypt.

Sources in the Gaza Strip said nearly 1,000 Palestinian pilgrims who visited Mecca have not been able to return home because of the closure of the border.

In addition to closing the Rafah terminal, the Egyptian army has also destroyed several smuggling tunnels along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt in the past few days, sources close to Hamas confirmed on Sunday.

The sources said that the Egyptian measures have resulted in a shortage of fuel and basic goods in the Gaza Strip.

Ahmed Assaf, a Fatah spokesman, blamed Hamas for the closure of the terminal. He said that Hamas’s meddling in the internal affairs of Egypt – by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood – has harmed the national interests of the Palestinians.

“Hamas’s position does not represent the Palestinian people,” Assaf said, holding the Islamist movement responsible for the closure of the border.

“Hamas’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood obstructs our main goal to get rid of occupation, establish an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and ensure the right of return for Palestinian refugees.”

Assaf said that in addition to interfering in Egypt, Hamas was also meddling in the internal affairs of Lebanon and Syria, on instructions from the Muslim Brotherhood leadership.

The Fatah spokesman urged the Egyptian government to reopen the Rafah terminal to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians.

“We won’t allow Hamas to hold Palestinians hostage,” he said. “Hamas is serving the agenda of external forces.”

PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo called on Hamas to reconsider its policies, in wake of the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.

“The victory of the revolution in Egypt and the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood regime requires that Hamas reconsider its policies,” Abed Rabbo said. “We hope that Hamas will draw the conclusions and agree to real democratic elections for the sake of the Palestinians.”

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