Palestinian resistance movement slams rival Fatah for 'exploiting' longstanding Israeli/Egyptian blockade of Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY, Palestine
Palestinian resistance movement Hamas on Monday said it was ready to hear any suggestion aimed at easing the years-long Israeli/Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip, which the movement has governed since 2007.
"We’re ready to hear any suggestions aimed at providing a solution to the ongoing closure of the [Egypt-Gaza] Rafah border crossing and guaranteeing the free movement of our people," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zahri said.
Abu Zahri criticized the approach of the Fatah movement -- a rival Palestinian faction based in the West Bank -- to the ongoing blockade of Gaza, describing it as "unacceptable exploitation" of the suffering of the strip’s inhabitants.
He went on to call on all Palestinian factions to work together to raise the blockade, which is now in its ninth year.
On Sunday, Fatah spokesman Osama al-Qawasmi called on Hamas to concede responsibility for the Rafah crossing to the West Bank-based Palestinian unity government.
Al-Qawasmi went on to hold Hamas "entirely responsible" for the suffering of the people of Gaza.
In April of last year, Hamas and Fatah -- which govern the Gaza Strip and the West Bank respectively -- agreed to establish a unity government.
However, the government drawn up in June 2014 has been unable to carry out its duties in the coastal strip due to ongoing differences between Hamas and Fatah.
Since the 2013 ouster of Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, the Egyptian authorities have kept the Rafah border crossing -- Gaza's only access to the outside world not under Israeli control -- tightly sealed.
Egypt has justified the closure by pointing to frequent militant attacks on security personnel in the Sinai Peninsula, which shares borders with both Israel and the Gaza Strip.
The ongoing closure of the Rafah crossing has served to deprive the Gaza Strip’s roughly 1.9 million inhabitants of vital commodities, including food, fuel and medicine.