Hamas pleads with Cairo to relax restrictions on Rafah border with Gaza



Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has urged Egypt to relax its restrictions on the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip.

Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said on Tuesday that the movement had pleaded with Cairo to allow more traffic through the Rafah border crossing with the impoverished Gaza Strip, the territory’s only transit outlet not controlled by the Israeli regime, AFP reported.

Hayya said the plea had been made during recent visits by unspecified Hamas officials to the Egyptian capital of Cairo to mend fences with the Egyptian government.

Palestinians join a rally organized by the Hamas movement at Rafah border crossing with Egypt on January 22, 2016, demanding the permanent opening of the crossing. (Photo by AFP)

Egypt has kept its border with Gaza largely shut since 2013, following the ouster of the country’s first freely-elected President Mohamed Morsi in a military coup led by former army chief and current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Ties have greatly soured between Hamas and Cairo’s military-friendly authorities since then.

Tensions surged this month when Egypt accused the Palestinian movement of involvement in the assassination of Cairo’s top prosecutor, who was killed in a car bombing last year.

Egyptian Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar speaks during a press conference in Cairo on March 6, 2016, accusing Hamas of being involved in the assassination of Egypt’s top prosecutor in 2015. (Photo by AFP)

Hamas has rejected the allegation, and Haya insisted that his movement “condemned political killings and condemned the assassination of Attorney General Hisham Barakat.”

He further underlined that Hamas won’t “interfere in Egyptian affairs.”

Since 2013, Egypt has destroyed hundreds of Palestinian supply tunnels used mainly to transit much needed commercial goods to Gaza.

The Hamas Interior Ministry has announced that 2015 was “the worst year for Rafah in recent years,” when the border crossing was opened for only 21 days throughout the year.

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