Hamas says Egypt to close Gaza crossing to Palestinians leaving the territory

A member of Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas stands guard at the gate of Rafah border crossing. (Reuters)
Updated 08 January 2019
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Hamas says Egypt to close Gaza crossing to Palestinians leaving the territory

  • Palestinian Authority took control of Rafah in November 2017, as part of a deal for Egypt to reopen the border
  • Hamas border official said they had taken control “to avoid a vacuum”

RAFAH: Egypt will bar Gazans from crossing into its territory from Tuesday, after the Palestinian Authority withdrew staff from the border point over alleged abuses.
The partial closure will raise fears over the impact on Gaza's two million residents, for whom a rare opening of the crossing in recent months has provided an opportunity to leave the strip, controlled by Hamas.
A statement late Monday from the Hamas-run interior ministry said Egyptian authorities had informed them the crossing "will be limited to only the arrival of individuals and the entry of goods".
It did not say for how long it was expected to be closed for those leaving, and there was no immediate comment from Egypt.
Rafah - the only way for Gazans to leave the Palestinian enclave that bypasses Israel - was closed Monday due to the Orthodox Christmas holiday but had been expected to reopen both directions Tuesday.
The PA's civil affairs authority on Sunday announced its staff would no longer man the crossing, accusing Hamas of "summoning, arresting and abusing our employees", according to official Palestinian news agency WAFA.
Earlier on Monday Hamas employees retook the post in what they said was an attempt to maintain border control after the shock PA withdrawal.
An AFP journalist saw Hamas officials at the border crossing's main gate and inside accompanying offices in southern Gaza.
Hamas' interior ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bozum said his organisation aimed to "protect the interests of our people."
Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 in a near civil war with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas' Fatah party.
But the PA took control of Rafah in November 2017, as part of a deal for Egypt to reopen a border that had been entirely shut from August that year and largely sealed for years before that.
The PA's takeover of Rafah in 2017 was seen as a first step towards implementing a reconciliation agreement between it and Hamas.
The deal has subsequently broken down and Abbas' PA has taken a series of measures against Gaza.
Egypt has allowed the border to open regularly since August 2018, providing a lifeline to the enclave's residents.
Israel has maintained a crippling blockade of Gaza for more than a decade, in a bid to isolate Hamas and keep it from obtaining weapons.
Critics say the policy amounts to collective punishment.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.
A planned event commemorating the anniversary of the founding of Fatah - due to take place in Gaza on Monday - was cancelled on Sunday, as organisers said they faced threats.


Brother of 2017 Ariana Grande concert bomber extradited from Libya to Britain

Updated 17 July 2019
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Brother of 2017 Ariana Grande concert bomber extradited from Libya to Britain

  • Salman Abedi blew himself up at the end of a show by US singer Ariana Grande in 2017, killing 22 people
  • Hashem Abedi was handed over to British officials and then flown to Britain where he was arrested for murder

LONDON: Libya on Wednesday extradited to Britain the brother of a suicide bomber who attacked an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester in May 2017 and killed 22 people, officials said.
Salman Abedi's brother Hashem, who was arrested in Libya days after the bombing, was handed over to British officials and then flown to Britain where he was arrested for murder, Greater Manchester Police said in a statement.
"He has today been successfully extradited for offences relating to the Manchester Arena attack," it said.

 


Asked about the arrest, British Prime Minister Theresa May said it was "an important moment in the investigation.
"I hope it is a welcome step for the loved ones of all the victims," she said, condemning the "appalling" and "senseless" attack.
Manchester police said Abedi was also being arrested for attempted murder and "conspiracy to cause an explosion likely to endanger life".
He is expected to appear in a London court on Thursday.
A spokesman for the Libyan force which had held him earlier told AFP that Abedi was "in the plane headed for Britain".
Ahmed Ben Salem of the Special Deterrence Force (Radaa), an armed group which serves as the capital's police, said he was being extradited in line with a decision of the Libyan judiciary following a request from Britain.
According to Radaa, the brother has allegedly acknowledged that he was in Britain as the attack was being prepared and was "fully aware of the details".

 

 


His father was also detained in Libya but released a few weeks later.
Salman Abedi carried out the bloodiest terror attack in Britain in more than a decade when he detonated a suicide bomb after a concert by Grande, leaving many children among the dead.
Libya's internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), which is based in Tripoli, said in April that Hashem Abedi's case was being determined by the North African country's courts.
Libya has been mired in chaos since the ouster and killing of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a NATO-backed uprising 2011.


The Abedi family, originally from Libya, had fled to Britain during the dictatorship, but the brothers returned to the country along with their father when the uprising began in 2011.
There has been a surge in fighting since military strongman General Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive on Tripoli, seat of the GNA, on April 4.