Palestinian Authority assumed full control of the Rafah border crossings between Gaza Strip and Egypt on Wednesday. This handover is part of the reconciliation agreement signed a few weeks ago in Cairo between the PA and Hamas. For the first time in over 10 years, the Rafah crossing on the Gaza-Egypt border will return to full operations
In a statement by the The PA they said that the Palestinian government in Ramallah, headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, is now responsible for the border crossings. The following step is that Hamas will give the PA full control of all the government ministries in Gaza.
The PA Minister of Civil Affairs, Hussein Sheikh, said that the Rafah crossing will return to full operations, as it did before 2007, beginning on November 15.The Ramallah-based Palestinian Government will be responsible for collecting payments made at the crossings and the PA’s Finance Ministry will be responsible for the collection of tax payments. This step proves Hamas’ willingness to implement the unity agreement.
Member of Fatah Central Committee, Azzam al-Ahmad, said that this is “an important step in the implementation of the reconciliation agreement which means movement of people and goods will be from now on the responsibility of the National Consensus Government.”
He told the official Voice of Palestine radio that “Rafah crossing has a special status different from all other crossings.” He said Egypt is going to officially open Rafah crossing for travel in the middle of this month after it completes modifications and repairs on the terminal. the European police is going to be present to monitor movement of people and goods as agreed in the 2005 movement and access agreement while the presidential guards will be in charge of security in the terminal and along the border with Egypt, said Ahmad.
According to the Official News Agency, WAFA, Egypt used to open the crossing, the only exit terminal for Gaza’s two million population, for few days every three or four months, creating a serious problem for students and people studying or working abroad and for travelers in and out of Gaza in general.