Hamas partially reopened the Erez Crossing between Israel and Gaza on Monday morning, after the terror group closed it for the first time since it took control of the territory ten years ago, following the killing of Hamas commander Mazen Faqha on Friday.
The Erez crossing is the Gaza Strip’s sole border crossing with Israel, and was opened on Monday to senior politicians, the sick and families of prisoners in Israel. The Interior Ministry in Gaza said that everyone was permitted to return to the Strip.
The terror group have forbidden men aged between 15 and 45 to leave the Gaza Strip for Israel however, women of all ages are able to use the crossing. Israel said that its side of the crossing remained open.
Iyad al-Bozum, spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Gaza, stated that “from Monday morning, travel through the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing will be permitted temporarily for some categories”.
The statement came a day after the Interior Ministry in Gaza said the crossing would be shut indefinitely as it investigated the killing of Hamas extremist Mazen Faqha, who was shot by unknown gunmen on Friday.
Hamas blamed Israel for the assassination, with deputy leader of Hamas Khalil al-Haya threatening: “If the enemy thinks that this assassination will change the power balance, then it should know the minds of Hamas will be able to retaliate in kind”. Israel has not commented on the assassination.
Faqha was responsible for Hamas’s wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam brigades in the West Bank. He was jailed over suicide attacks during the Second Intifada in 2002, including plotting a 2002 bus bombing that killed nine people, but was released in 2011 along with 1,027 prisoners as part of the Gilad Shalit exchange deal.
The IDF arrested senior Hamas official Rafat Nassif in Tulkarm in the West Bank on Sunday night during an overnight raid. The terrorist organisation is currently holding covert leadership elections in the West Bank. Nassif, who was released from prison last month, was one of 14 suspects arrested for involvement in terror activity and rioting.