GAZA: Hamas said on Monday that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has handed over the control of the Rafah Border Crossing between the southern Gaza Strip and Egypt to Hamas security forces.
In an e-mailed statement, the Interior Ministry of Hamas said the PA employees handed overnight the crossing point to Tawfiq Abu Neim, chief of Hamas interior security in Gaza.
According to the statement, Nazmi Muhana, chief of PA border crossings corporation, had informed the ministry that his employees will pull out from the Rafah crossing point on Monday.
Hamas will run the crossing point “to preserve the interests of our Palestinian people,” the statement said.
However, it is still unclear whether the crossing point will be open or remain closed under Hamas administration.
Withdrawing the PA employees from the Rafah crossing came after a Hamas recent crackdown on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party in the Gaza Strip.
During the past two days, Hamas security forces have arrested dozens of Fatah members and leaders in Gaza to prevent them from marking 54 years of the establishment of their movement, which was founded in January 1965.
On Sunday, the PA Corporation of Civil Affairs announced the decision to pull out the PA employees at the Rafah crossing point, citing “Hamas practices against Fatah leaders and members.”
The Rafah Border Crossing had been under Hamas’ control since its takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007. In November 2017, however, Hamas handed the crossing to the PA following an Egypt-brokered understanding with Fatah.
Tension between the two rival Palestinian groups has mounted after Abbas announced last week that a PA constitutional court decided to dissolve the Hamas-dominated Palestinian parliament, better known as the Legislative Council.