Tue, Jan 08, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Palestinian Authority pulls staff from border

AFP, GAZA CITY

A Hamas security guard stands at Rafah border crossing in the Gaza Strip yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

The Palestinian Authority on Sunday said it was withdrawing staff from the Rafah border post with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip to protest against “brutal practices” by rival faction Hamas.

“This decision comes in the light of recent developments and brutal practices of the de facto gangs” in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Authority’s civil affairs authority in a statement that was quoted by official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

The Palestinian Authority accused Hamas of “summoning, arresting and abusing our employees,” leading it to conclude that their presence was futile, the statement said.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 in a near civil war with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party.

However, the Palestinian Authority took control of Rafah in November 2017 as part of a deal that saw Egypt reopen a border that had been entirely shut from August that year and largely sealed for years before that.

“Since we took over the Rafah crossing, Hamas has been obstructing the work of our crew there,” the statement said.

It said Egypt had made the reopening of Rafah — the only land crossing from the Gaza Strip to non-Palestinian territory beyond two posts with Israel — conditional on the Palestinian Authority being in charge of it.

A Hamas spokesman said that the Palestinian Authority’s decision to withdraw “constitutes a new step by Mahmuod Abbas in separating the West Bank from the Gaza Strip.”

The Palestinian Authority is based in the city of Ramallah and only governs parts of the West Bank, which is separated from the Gaza Strip by Israeli territory.

Late last month, a Fatah spokesman accused Hamas of carrying out mass arrests of its members in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas denied the allegations.

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