Egyptians 'determined to reopen Rafah border crossing on permanent basis', leading Hamas official asserts
Recent talks in Cairo between Egyptian officials and a Hamas delegation tackled a host of issues, including the Gaza Strip’s dire humanitarian situation and the faltering Hamas-Fatah reconciliation process, leading Hamas member Khalil al-Hayya said Friday.
“During the visit, which came at our request, members of the Hamas delegation saw that the Egyptians want to alleviate Gaza’s suffering,” al-Hayya said in an interview with the Al-Aqsa television channel.
On Wednesday evening, Hamas announced that a high-level delegation -- led by group leader Ismail Haniya -- had concluded a "successful" 20-day visit to Cairo.
"Egyptian officials told delegation members that Egypt was determined to reopen the Rafah border crossing on a permanent basis," al-Hayya said.
"Despite the current security situation in Sinai, Egypt can still find alternatives that would allow it to open the crossing," he added.
Gaza’s only means of accessing the outside world, the Rafah border crossing links the blockaded strip to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, which has remained the epicenter of militant insurgency since Egypt’s 2013 military coup.
The Gaza Strip, which remains under the de facto control of Hamas, has groaned under a crippling Israeli/Egyptian blockade since 2007.
The blockade has largely destroyed the strip’s economy and deprived its more than 2 million inhabitants of many basic commodities, including food and medicine.
Al-Hayya warned that the ongoing siege -- if left in place -- would “eventually cause the people of Gaza to explode in the face of the blockading powers, especially the Israeli occupation."
"We do not seek war,” he said. “It is always our people who suffer most from war.”
"But what can our people do under such pressure?" he asked.
“Hamas has knocked on all doors in an effort to ease the situation in Gaza," added al-Hayya, calling on the international community to “shoulder its responsibilities."