CAIRO – Egypt on Saturday opened the Rafah Crossing on the border with the Gaza Strip for three days for humanitarian cases, in a move that could signal a new window of opportunity for the region.
It's the first time the Islamic militant group Hamas has ceded control of the Gaza crossing with Israel and Egypt to the Palestinian Authority.
According to the Palestinian Authority, security employees will be in charge of arranging the movement of passengers inside the crossing until they arrive on the Egyptian side. Hamas police will also monitor traffic outside the crossing point.
Palestinian officials believe the temporary border opening is a positive step toward achieving a successful Palestinian national unity.
"The opening of the Rafah Crossing will facilitate the movement of passengers. We also support any teamwork that would lead to real Palestinian national unity," said Mofeed Al-Hasssaynah, Palestinian minister of Public Works and Housing at the crossing.
Egypt has kept the Rafah Border Crossing largely sealed off since the ousting of the country's President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
"I hope that the crossing remains permanently open just like all crossings in all countries of the world are, so that we get rid of all the sufferings that we have been through," said Ahmad Al-Sourani, one of the passengers waiting to cross.
Last month, Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation deal under Egyptian sponsorship, ending a political rift which had lasted for almost 10 years.
According to the agreement, the Palestinian Authority is due to resume full control of the Gaza Strip starting in December.