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Fatah and Hamas divided over Rafah

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The crossing has been repeatedly opened and shut since the ouster of Morsi

Palestinian students hold placards during a demonstration in front of the Rafah crossing point to ask for its permanent opening on September 22, 2013 in the southern Gaza Strip.  (AFP Photo)

Palestinian students hold placards during a demonstration in front of the Rafah crossing point to ask for its permanent opening on September 22, 2013 in the southern Gaza Strip.
(AFP Photo)

The Fatah bureau in Egypt said on Saturday that Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt Barakat Al-Farra is trying with all available resources to ease the suffering of Palestinians and to open the Rafah border crossing.

The movement’s National Relations Committee said in a statement that Al-Farra is making calls with officials to try to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians by opening the Rafah border crossing; this was asserted by Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Mahmoud Abbas several times, the statement read. Fatah is the largest faction of the PLO.

Last week, Abbas requested that Director of Egyptian Intelligence, Mohamed Tohamy, ensures the border crossing is opened to allow students, sick people and humanitarian cases to leave the strip. Egypt responded by opening it on Wednesday and Thursday for four hours each day in both directions.

On Friday, Maher Abu Sobha, the head of the Gaza Border Authority, said he was informed by the Egyptian side that the border crossing is shut until further notice, the Palestine News Network reported.

There are two border crossings connecting the Gaza Strip to the outside world, the Egyptian controlled Rafah and the Israeli controlled Beit Hanoun (Erez) at the Northern end of the strip, which does not operate, making Rafah, which leads into the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, a vital outlet for Gaza residents to access the outside world.

Since the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi on 3 July, the Rafah border crossing has been repeatedly shut and reopened, sometimes for days on end.

Shutting down the border crossing exacerbates the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Students who study in Egyptian universities and in other countries cannot attend their universities and Gaza residents with serious health conditions, like heart disease and cancer, largely rely on Egyptian hospitals for treatment. Gaza residents also rely on the border crossing for trade.

The removal of Morsi also signaled the deterioration of the already tense relationship between Fatah and Hamas.

Salah Al-Bardawil, member of the political bureau of Hamas, said in a statement on Saturday that Al-Farra’s assertion that the border crossing will be shut until “legitimate authority” is restored is “proof of a big conspiracy against Gaza…” He added that Al-Farra’s statement proves that the Palestinian Authority and its embassy in Cairo are conspiring against Palestinians in Gaza.

Al-Farra released a statement on Sunday “denying what was reported in the media and made up by Hamas about his televised statements on the Rafah crossing…”

In a recent televised interview, Al-Farra had said that the representative of the Palestinian people is the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian state, both of which are led by Mahmoud Abbas.

Al-Bardawil stated: “exercising political pressure on the resistance will not make [us] kneel.” Hamas is an acronym of the Islamic Resistance Movement in Arabic. Citizens of the Gaza Strip have lived under a land, air and sea blockade since 2007 when Hamas took power.


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