On Tuesday, the Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, refused to allow the decision to re-open the Rafah crossing based on the past signed agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

In 2005 the Rafah crossing, between Gaza and Egypt, was handed over from Israel to be operated by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas security forces with EU observers monitoring the operation.

The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas offered earlier in the week to reopen the Rafah crossing located between Egypt and Gaza, the only way for the Palestinians to travel in or out of the Gaza strip based on the 2005 agreement. The offer was made on Sunday during his meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Ehod Olmert.

The international community welcomed the offer from Abbas, the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, hinted on Monday that the United States supports Abbas’s security forces in taking control over the Gaza borders. The EU also welcomed and supported that idea. On Sunday, Foreign Ministers of the Arab League issued a statement reiterating the need to run the Rafah crossing based on the 2005 agreement in order to end the crisis in the Gaza Strip.

In a telephone interview with IMEMC on Tuesday, Fawozi Barhum; the Spokesman of Hamas in Gaza said ‘we in the Hamas movement have stated clearly, will not allow the Rafah borders to be operated by the past agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, because it was unjust towards our people, thousands couldn’t leave the Gaza strip for health care, travel and studying and scores were kidnapped by the Israeli occupation at the Rafah borders because of this agreement’.

Barhum added that ‘after all of the hardship, loses and collective punishment, we will not allow the Israeli occupation with American supervision to control this Egyptian Palestinian crossing.’

In June 2007 Hamas took total control of the Gaza strip after several months of infighting between Hamas and President Abbas’ Fatah Party, the European observers then left the Rafah terminal, and shortly afterwards the Israeli and Egyptian troops totally closed it.

On Monday EU sources stated that if Hamas guarantees the safety of the EU observers they will send observers to all Gaza crossings including Rafah. Also on Monday Israeli government officials said that Abbas forces are not ready to take control over the Rafah crossing, however today the Israeli government announced that they are not planning to block Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas from controlling the crossing if he makes an agreement to do so with Cairo.

Cairo announced on Tuesday that Egyptian troops will complete the closure of the breach in the border that Palestinians made at the Rafah-Egypt borders. Last week Palestinian civilians and resistance groups opened two holes in the Rafah–Egypt border wall, after two weeks of an Israeli siege that left the 1.5 million Gaza residents lacking for food, water, medicine and fuel supplies.