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Agreements made between Hamas, Egypt will improve life in Gaza, official says

July 11, 2017 11:06 P.M. (Updated: July 13, 2017 7:13 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas’ chief of financial affairs released a statement on Tuesday saying that a delegation of Hamas leaders who had visited Egypt have reached an agreement to improve commercial exchanges and increase fuel supply to the besieged Gaza Strip.

Yousif al-Kayyali said that the new agreements would take efffect immediately following the completion of maintenance work at the Egypt-controlled Rafah crossing in southern Gaza. He added that Egyptian authorities had “promised” that new policies would be implemented at the crossing, which would be used for both the passage of people and goods.

"The coming days will see improvements in power and fuel supplies in the Gaza Strip," al-Kayyali said.

As a result of agreements between Hamas, the de facto leaders in Gaza, and Egyptian authorities, Egypt imported millions of liters of fuel into the territory, averting a full humanitarian collapse in the coastal enclave as Israel began to gradually reduce its supply of electricity.

However, the shipments were suspended for several days as a result of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) blocking payments for fuel purchased by Hamas authorities.

The PA had allegedly frozen all money transfers from Palestinian banks, amid an an increasingly bitter feud between the Fatah-led PA and Gaza’s de facto leading party Hamas.

Al-Kayyali added that a delegation of Egyptian doctors would also be visiting the besieged Palestinian territory in order to examine the deteriorating medical situation in Gaza, and to take note of medical needs and machinery that the impoverished territory “urgently needs.”

The PA has come under fierce condemnation for recent policies aimed at intentionally exacerbating the dire situation in Gaza, which originally stems from Israel’s decade-long siege on the territory, in order to wrestle control of the territory from Hamas, leaving Gaza's sick without access to treatment, while scores of life-saving medicines are no longer available in Gaza owing to PA policies.

Such policies include the PA allegedly halting medical referrals to patients in Gaza to receive medical treatment outside of the territory -- which led to the deaths of 3 newborns and 11 others over the previous three months.

At the same time, patients in Gaza have been forced to apply for permits to exit the territory for treatment owing to the lack of medicine and equipment after the PA cut its funding to the medical sector in the besieged enclave, which has seen the typical $4 million monthly budget of Gaza’s health ministry plummet to just $500,000.

Al-Kayyali also noted that more Hamas delegations would visit Egypt in the future in order to “follow up on arrangements” regarding the Rafah crossing and commercial exchanges between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

Hamas has sought to grow ties with Egyptian authorities in recent months since Hamas’ leadership is now concentrated in Gaza; therefore, the political party is dependent on the goodwill of the Egyptian government to maintain its leaders’ freedom of movement through their shared border, which has been mostly sealed by Egyptian authorities since President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi’s overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government in 2013.

Meanwhile, Hamas’ strengthened relationship with Egypt comes amid a growing alliance with discharged Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan -- with whom Hamas has confirmed an alliance to challenge the PA.

Dahlan reportedly met Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas' politburo, during a visit to Cairo -- supposedly without the knowledge of overall Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, indicative of a political split within the party -- which was followed by a leaked report alleging that Dahlan was slated to be appointed as head of Gaza’s de facto government.

The UN has warned that Gaza, which marked its 10th year under an Israeli-enforced blockade last month, could become uninhabitable for residents by 2020, pointing to the devastation of war and the effects of Israel's longstanding blockade.
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