Three weeks after it was closed due to the deadly terror attack on an Egyptian army post in the Sinai Peninsula, the Rafah crossing will reopen on Sunday to civilian traffic in both directions at all times, the interior ministry of the Hamas government in Gaza announced after being briefed on the matter by Egyptian authorities.
Hamas interior ministry spokesman Ihab al-Ghussein wrote on his Facebook page that the reopening of the land crossing was an "important development."
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"The Egyptian side has informed us a few moments ago that the crossing would be open every day of the week," he wrote.
The Rafah crossing was closed following Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza in 2007, but it was reopened following the regime change in Egypt.
Egypt closed the crossing – Gaza's only gateway to the outside world that bypasses Israel – after the August 5 attack and has since only partially reopened it. Initially it was opened to traffic in one direction (from Sinai to Gaza), then in both directions – but only three days a week.
Gaza's only gateway. Rafah crossing (Photo: EPA)
Egypt's decision to close the crossing in the wake of the terror attack drew harsh criticism from senior Hamas figures, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Interior Minister Fathi Hamad. Haniyeh recently promised Egypt that Hamas would assist in the investigation of the attack.
Egyptian officials have charged that some of the 35 gunmen who stormed the army post, killing 16 soldiers, had crossed from Gaza through the network of smuggling tunnels that run under the Gaza border.
But Gaza's Hamas rulers have said no Palestinians are suspected of involvement in the attack.
Meanwhile, a Hamas delegation was to head to Cairo for security talks later Saturday amid Egyptian anger at the deadly raid earlier this month, officials from the Islamist group said.
"A security team from Gaza will leave for several meetings with Egyptian security," Hamas interior ministry spokesman al-Ghussein told AFP.
He said that the object was "to coordinate completely on all security issues, including border security and events which happened in Sinai and the Rafah border crossing (between Gaza and Egypt)."
Asked if the Hamas delegation would take part in the Egyptian investigation, Ghussein said they would not be "directly involved" but would coordinate with Egyptian colleagues.
AFP contributed to the report