Hundreds of Palestinians cross into Egypt via Rafah crossing
Egypt Saturday re-opened its border with the Gaza Strip for three days to allow Palestinians stranded on both sides to cross, witnesses and Hamas security sources said, dpa reported.
A few hundred Palestinian patients gathered at the Rafah crossing where there were at least 10 ambulances carrying very sick people. Hamas policemen were deployed at the Rafah crossing while Egypt took over the coordination at the middle and the exit terminal of the crossing.
The border is being opened without the presence of the European Union monitors and the Presidential Guard forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who withdrew from the area in June 2007 when Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip by force.
The last opening of the border was in January when Hamas militants blew it up, allowing Gazans to cross freely into Sinai.
On Saturday, the crossing were being opened from 9:30 to 16:00 for patients with bookings at Egyptian hospitals. On Sunday, Palestinians, who arrived in Gaza before June and became stranded when Hamas took over the region, will be allowed to leave.
On Monday the crossing is set to be open for Palestinians wishing to travel into Gaza.
Also Saturday, Abbas' Fatah movement welcomed a call from Hamas for national reconciliation Friday.
"Reconciliation is a national and a strategic necessity for the Palestinian people," said Qadoura Fares, a leading member of Fatah.
Exiled Hamas politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal called for dialogue and reconciliation Friday at a speech he delivered in a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus.
However, Fares said that Mashaal's call "requires important acts to ease the dialogue's process." He was referring to a condition by Abbas that Hamas must end its control of the Gaza Strip before any talks start.
Meanwhile, Hamas said that Mashaal's speech "puts the ball in Abbas and Fatah's court," calling on the Palestinian president to "set himself free from the American veto and respond to the dialogue's call."
"If Abu Mazen (Abbas) accepts negotiations with the Israeli occupation, he should have accepted dialogue with his people," added Hamas' spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.