Sunday, 25 Feb 2018 - 10 of Adar, 5778

Hamas to hand control of Rafah border crossing over to Palestinian Authority

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JERUSALEM—Hamas will forfeit control of the Rafah border crossing to the Palestinian Authority on November 15th, Israel Broadcast Corporation (Kan) reported.

The move is part of a tripartite agreement between Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt for Hamas to hand the crossing between Gaza and Egypt over to PA security forces. It was reported that, at first, Hamas was insistent on keeping its forces at the crossing and offered to share authority with the PA, but representatives of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas were strongly against the idea.

The transfer of power at the crossing is expected to result in Egypt allowing the crossing to be open for larger amounts of time – a move that is expected to improve conditions for many living on the Gaza Strip.

In addition, as part of the agreements reached between the PA and Hamas in the recent talks mediated by Egypt, the Authority is set to assume control of both the Erez and Kerem Shalom border crossings between Gaza and Israel.

ension in Gaza Belt Following Tunnel Demolition; Jewish Home Furious Over IDF Clarification

Written by Andrew Friedman/TPS on October 31, 2017

Meanwhile tension reigned in the Gaza Belt region Tuesday as residents braced for possible retaliation from terror groups following Monday’s IDF strike on a cross-border tunnel that killed seven Islamic Jihad members and injured 11. Officials in the area said schools would operate as usual but that children would not be allowed to spend recess time outside.

IDF officials said that the attack was not intended to kill terrorists or a targeted killing of any particular Islamic Jihad officials, but only to destroy a tunnel that reached into Israeli territory.

But the army added that certain dangers are inherent to digging tunnels, and denied Palestinian reports that Israel had filled the tunnel with chemicals. They added that the injuries occurred as a result of “side effects” of the attack.

“This was not a targeted killing and we had no intention at any stage of doing anything that could have been seen as a strike against one official or another. Our goal was simply to destroy the tunnel from our territory… (but) there are side effects in tunnels like falling sand, smoke and dust. We did not pour anything into the tunnel. We only used legal, normal methods to blow up the tunnel,” the military said.

Although the army said the statement was not intended as an apology, leaders of the Jewish Home party were furious. Party officials called on the IDF General Staff to investigate the “bizarre apology,” and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the party chairman, wrote on Twitter that “we must not apologize for the successful elimination of terrorists.

“Let me be clear: We are talking about terrorists who were involved in digging an explosive tunnel *inside Israeli territory* that was intended to kill Israeli women and children,” Bennett wrote.

The IDF statement that the Palestinian deaths were collateral damage, and not the targets of the attack, is of particular note in light of an “official” cease fire between Hamas and Israel that has reigned since the end of Operation Protective Edge. De facto, the two sides agreed that Israel would not assassinate Hamas officials if Hamas refrained from rocket attacks and moved to prevent other armed groups in the Strip from doing the same.

Nevertheless, there have been more than 50 cross border attacks since September, 2014.

Yona Schnitzer of TPS contributed to the report.

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