Report: Rafiach Crossing Closed Over PA’s Insistence on Israeli Involvement

Hamas terrorists next to an Egyptian watch tower on the border between Egypt and Gaza, in Rafiach, southern Gaza Strip. (Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90)

Gaza residents were up in arms over a delay in the reopening of the Rafiach crossing between Gaza and Sinai, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported Thursday. The crossing was set to reopen on Wednesday, but the Palestinian Authority announced that the opening would be delayed by at least several weeks, due to disagreements between Fatah and Hamas over responsibility for the crossing.

That disagreement, the Al-Hayat report said, was over the insistence by the PA that Israeli cameras be installed at the crossing, as per the 2005 agreement on crossings between Israel and the PA. The crossing, which was controlled solely by Hamas when the Gaza terror group booted the PA out of the region in 2006, is set to revert to PA control as part of the recent reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah.

Fatah, which is the majority in the PA government, is insisting that the takeover by the Authority be based on the 2005 agreement, which places European peacekeepers at the crossing to ensure security, and Israeli cameras to supervise that no illegal items are brought into Gaza. Hamas opposes doing that, and refuses to allow the placement of Israeli cameras at the site. According to the report, the PA is insisting that Israel be involved so that it cannot claim that it is no longer an “occupying power.” Israel abandoned Gaza as part of the 2005 disengagement, initially keeping control of Rafiach, but later leaving that area as well.

According to the report, “the PA’s insistence is designed to ensure that Israel cannot escape responsibility for the Gaza as its occupying power, even at the expense of Palestinian independence.”