The Palestinian Authority (PA) said Sunday it was pulling its staff from the Rafah border crossing 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, said the PA’s civil affairs authority in a statement.
It accused Hamas of “summoning, arresting and abusing our employees,” leading it to conclude that their presence was futile, the statement said.
Islamist movement Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 in a near civil war with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.
However, the PA took control of Rafah in November 2017, as part of an agreement 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 PA being in charge of it.
A Hamas spokesman said the PA’s decision to withdraw “constitutes a new step by Mahmoud Abbas in separating the West Bank from the Gaza Strip”.
The PA is based in the city of Ramallah and only governs parts of the Israeli occupied West Bank, which is separated from the Gaza Strip by internationally recognised Israeli territory.
– with reporting by Agence France-Presse