Egypt decided on Wednesday to open the main gate of the Rafah border crossing, allowing buses carrying patients and students from Gaza to move to and from Egypt.
According to local outlets, the border crossing will be opened in order to transfer Palestinian patients, students, and carriers of foreign residence permits for Egypt. The opening process will be administered by Egyptian and Palestinian authorities.
Egyptian authorities have, for the most part, kept the Rafah border crossing closed since July 2013. They had launched a campaign to destroy illegal underground tunnels, which had been vital to supplying Gaza residents with food, medicine, fuel, and building materials.
Last October, Hamas and Fatah signed an agreement at the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate headquarters in Cairo and the two factions agreed to proceed with further meetings between them to plan for presidential and legislative elections.
In September 2017, Hamas announced dissolving its administrative committee in the Gaza Strip in order to end the escalation with Fatah, which President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas belongs to. According to the agreement, Hamas should allow the reconciliation government to carry out its duties in the 360 sqkm strip.
However the efforts of reconciliation seem to have stopped after the decision of American President Donald Trump to relocate the US Embassy to Jerusalem, leading to Egyptian general intelligence moderators to return from Gaza to Egypt after they were supposed to conduct talks with Hamas and Fatah.
Prior to 2013, Hamas had strong ties with Egypt, as it had good relations with the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group in Egypt. However, the relationship grew tense following the ouster of Islamist former president Mohamed Morsi.
The border was then permanently closed on 24 October 2014, following attacks on the Qarm Al-Qawadis checkpoint by the militant group “Sinai Province”. The attack resulted in the deaths of at least 33 military personnel. Since then, the crossing has been periodically opened only in exceptional cases and for short periods of time.