Hamas takes control of Gaza goods crossing with Israel
Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP)
Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas took control of the Palestinian side of the enclave's main goods crossing with Israel, the strip's interior ministry and an official news agency said Sunday.
Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 in a near civil war with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas' Fatah party.
But it agreed to hand control of the crossings to the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in 2017, as part of a since-failed reconciliation attempt between the two parties.
The PA administration at the goods crossing said Sunday that Hamas had "expelled (its) employees and banned them from entering the crossing".
Known to Israelis as Kerem Shalom and to Palestinians as the Kerem Abu Salem, the crossing in the south of poverty-hit enclave has been a lifeline for Gazans, who have lived under a crippling Israeli blockade for more than a decade.
Hamas confirmed PA employees had left the crossing.
Security forces "put in place procedures dictated by security imperatives", Gaza's interior ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bozum said in a statement.
"Palestinian Authority employees at the crossing have refused to cooperate on these procedures for a few days and today we were surprised by their departure," he added.
He said goods continued to pass through the crossing as normal.
The Israeli defence ministry body responsible for Palestinian civil affairs, COGAT, said "trucks were going through" into Gaza as usual.
Last month, Gaza's only crossing with Egypt was partially closed for some 20 days after PA employees withdrew from the border point, accusing Hamas of interference.
Hamas employees quickly retook control of the Rafah crossing, the only way for Palestinians to leave the enclave that bypasses Israel.
Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, including Hamas, have fought three wars since 2008.
Tensions have risen again since March as Palestinians have gathered at least weekly along the border with Israel for often-violent protests, calling for an end to the blockade.
At least 250 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since then, the majority shot during clashes, though others have been hit by tank fire or air strikes.
Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period.
© 2019 AFP