GAZA - A senior Islamic Hamas movement’s official said on Wednesday that Egypt has positively promised to permanently reopen Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip.

The only key border crossing point for the Gaza Strip to the outside world had been closed for three days after the Palestinian Authority (PA) decided to pull out its employees from the crossing in protest against Hamas’ crackdown on supporters of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza.

Bassem Naiem, member of Hamas political department, told Xinhua that the movement has received positive signs and promises from the Egyptian side to re-operate Rafah border crossing as soon as possible. “We don’t expect that there is an agreement between Egypt and the PA to keep the crossing closed and we are looking forward that Egypt won’t cooperate with the PA’s decision to keep the crossing closed,” he said.

After the PA pulled out its employees from the crossing point, Egypt kept the crossing partially operating and only allowed Gaza populations abroad to return to the coastal enclave. Naiem said that the PA’s decision to pull out its employees from Rafah crossing “would harm the Egyptian efforts that were exerted for so many years to achieve an internal Palestinian reconciliation and end internal division.” On Jan. 6, the PA Corporation of Civil Affairs (Liaison) announced that it decided to withdraw all its Palestinian employees from the crossing “because of Hamas practices against Fatah movement leaders and members.” The Rafah crossing point had been under Hamas’ control since its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007. In November 2017, however, Hamas handed the crossing to the PA following an Egypt-brokered understanding with Fatah. Tension between the two rival Palestinian groups has mounted after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced last week that a PA constitutional court decided to dissolve the Hamas-dominated Palestinian parliament, better known as the Legislative Council.