Hamas, Egypt Lock Horns on Gaza Border Crossing

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Trouble seems to be brewing among the newlyweds, Hamas and Egypt.

Ten days ago, Egypt had announced the permanent reopening of the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip. While this news had caused security concerns for Israel, Hamas was jubilant as it hoped the crossing would grant ease of passage to innumerable Palestinians.

Reality, however, turned out to be different and the marriage may be in trouble. Hamas officials are fuming over the low numbers permitted to cross into Egypt via the Rafah crossing.

Hamas is also disturbed over Egypt's restrictions: advanced notice of the names of travelers ages 18 to 40 years and visa requirements for those under the age of 18 and above the age of 40.
On Saturday, Egyptian authorities shut down the border crossing to conduct repairs of the walls without informing the Gaza officials. Passengers from the Gaza Strip who were denied passage stormed a gate after having waited hours in buses. They were escorted back into Gaza, and the border was closed.

The Egyptian decision to close the border for repairs came at a time when the Egyptian-brokered Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal seems to be in discord, with both parties still unable to reach a unanimous decision over the establishment of a government.

On Sunday, Hamas announced that it plans to keep the Gaza side of the crossing closed until the Egyptian government allows daily passage to more Palestinians and relaxes certain visa requirements.

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