Egypt temporarily opens Gaza crossing after 2-month closure

AP News
Posted: Mar 09, 2015 6:18 AM

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Egypt temporarily opened a crossing with the Gaza Strip on Monday, allowing students, patients seeking medical care and dual nationals to leave the territory for the first time in nearly two months.

It was the first time Egypt opened the crossing since an Egyptian court last month declared the territory's rulers, Hamas, a terrorist organization.

Egypt sealed the border crossing in October, citing security concerns, and has since opened it intermittently. But the crossing's opening did not appear to signal a change in Egyptian policy.

Some 1,200 people are expected to leave Gaza through the crossing during the two-day opening.

Hamas seized Gaza by force in 2007, and the territory's borders have been largely sealed since by Israel and Egypt. Egypt intensified the blockade after its military toppled a Hamas-friendly government in 2013.

Also Monday, Hamas condemned the arrests of 30 of its activists in the West Bank in a sweep that began Sunday night. It was the first time in months that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority has rounded up so many Hamas activists. The reason for the arrests was unclear.

Hamas routed forces loyal to Abbas when it seized power in Gaza. Attempts between Hamas and Abbas' political faction Fatah to reconcile have stalled ever since and the two groups remain rivals.

Hamas said the arrests showed that Abbas was continuing security coordination with its enemy Israel, despite threats to end the cooperation.