Egypt opens Rafah border crossing

Some 5,000 Palestinians to cross over; at terminal, Haniyeh cites obstacles in way of Fatah-Hamas deal.

Rafah waiting great 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Rafah waiting great 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Egypt opened the Rafah border terminal with Gaza on Saturday to allow some 5,000 Palestinians to cross over in the next three days. The crossing was sealed when Hamas violently took control of Gaza two years ago and has only been opened sporadically since. Masses of Gazans, led by Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, flocked to the terminal on Saturday afternoon. Speaking to reporters, Haniyeh said that obstacles remained in the way of a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement. "There are still serious problems, but I hope a deal can be signed on July 7," Haniyeh was quoted by the Palestinian news agency Ma'an as saying, referring to the date for the next round of talks in Cairo. "The issue of the Rafah crossing has always been on the table in internal Palestinian negotiations, and we are discussing it with our brothers in Egypt," he continued. "We still believe that closing the terminal was a mistake from both an international and pan-Arab perspective because the suffering of Gaza residents is extreme - words cannot describe it." He stressed that Hamas was prepared to cooperate on all aspects of operating the crossing. "We can operate the crossing on the basis of an internal political partnership and an Egyptian-Palestinian partnership, with the presence of Europeans, Egyptians, the Palestinian president's office and the Palestinian government," he said. Among other vehicles that arrived at the crossing Saturday were ambulances carrying Gaza patients waiting for treatment outside the territory.