Published: Thu, November 02, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Hamas hands over Gaza border crossings as part of Palestinian reconciliation deal

Another milestone in the reconciliation of Palestinian Hamas and Fatah factions comes on Wednesday when the Palestinian Authority assumes control of the crossing point between the town of Rafah and Egypt.

The two sides have been at odds for a decade but last month Egypt helped broker a reconciliation agreement created to end the schism.

Nazmi Muhanna, the PA's top official for border crossings, formally received control of the Rafah crossing from his Hamas counterpart. Both the Palestinian and Egyptian national anthems were played at the beginning of the ceremony.

In a statement, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Al-Hamdallah said taking charge of the crossings would help Palestinian Authority to improve living conditions of Palestinian people.

"We have handed over the crossings with honesty and responsibility, without bargaining and unconditionally", Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a video address.

However, the closures have also increased the economic hardship in Gaza by limiting shipments of goods in and out of the territory.

He said, according to WAFA, that efforts are underway to insure the reopening of Rafah crossing within two weeks, and in accordance with the 2005 crossing agreement. In a statement issued by COGAT, Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Palestinian territories, Israel made it clear it regards Hamas' continued absence from the border crossings as being of central importance.

Israel has said it wants to meet with the PA to discuss how the Israel-Gaza border crossings will operate under the new arrangements.

An employee of the Palestinian Authority stands guard on the Palestinian side of the Erez checkpoint between Israel and Gaza, at Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017.

Israel is tightening its security along the Gaza Strip border, citing concerns of Islamic terrorism.

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