Hamas hails decision to permanently open Rafah border crossingMay 27th, 2011 - 1:45 am ICT by BNO News
GAZA (BNO NEWS) — Hamas, one of the main Palestinian factions, on Thursday hailed the courageous decision by the Egyptian ruling military council to permanently open the Rafah border crossing.
According to the Palestine News Network, the crossing will be reopened on Saturday and will remain this way except on Fridays and holidays. The decision was made as part of the attempts to end the Palestinian division.
Furthermore, Egypt’s ruling council said that the permanent opening of the crossing is part oft eh efforts to achieve national reconciliation as remarked in the recent unity deal signed by all Palestinian factions in Cairo.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said the move was a “responsible decision” that represented the view of both the Egyptian and Palestinian population. He added that Hamas believed this to be the first decisive step in ending the siege on Gaza.
Palestinian men under the age of 18 and above 40 as well as students and women of all ages will not be required a visa to cross the Rafah border. Due to the blockade, tunnels have been used to smuggle goods into the region.
“This is an important move for the entry and exit of Palestinian citizens, and we hope it will be developed to enable the Rafah crossing to handle goods in the future,” Hamas spokesman Taher Al-Nono said.
The Israeli government welcomed the reopening of the crossing as it supports the transit of goods in and out of the Gaza Strip. The Jewish nation remarked that it is focused on disrupting arms trafficking and other support to Hamas.
The Rafah border crossing is the only way in and out of Gaza which does not pass through Israeli soil. In February, Egypt opened the crossing to allow limited passage in both directions. The border access was closed during the January unrest in the North African country.
Last year, Egyptian authorities decided to open the Rafah border crossing to Gaza following the attack on a Pro-Gaza aid flotilla by the Israeli navy to allow humanitarian and medical aid as well as receiving patients in need of urgent medical attention.
The crossing opening was decided in part due to the pressure by Arabs and Palestinians to end the three-year blockade imposed by Israel after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.
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