Hamas, the Gaza Strip’s Islamist rulers, took control of the Palestinian side of the enclave’s main goods crossing with Israel, officials said Sunday.
Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 in a conflict with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah party.
However, it agreed to relinquish control of the crossings to the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) in 2017, as part of a since-failed reconciliation effort between the two parties.
The PA administration at the goods crossing said Sunday that Hamas had “expelled [its] employees and banned them from entering the crossing,” the official news agency Wafa reported.
Known to Israelis as Kerem Shalom and to Palestinians as the Kerem Abu Salem, the crossing in the south of the impoverished enclave has been a lifeline for Gazans, who have endured a crippling Israeli blockade for more than a decade.
Hamas confirmed PA employees had left the crossing.
Security forces “put in place procedures dictated by security imperatives,” Gaza’s interior ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bozum said in a statement.
“Palestinian Authority employees at the crossing have refused to cooperate on these procedures for a few days and today we were surprised by their departure,” he added.
He said goods continued to pass through the crossing as normal.
– with reporting by Agence France-Presse