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Hamas plans to privatise Gaza border crossings
Sunday February 23, 2014 9:00 AM, IANS

The Islamic Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, is seeking to privatise the crossing points either with Israel or with Egypt to deal with an economic deterioration, a senior Hamas official said Saturday.

Economy Minister of the Hamas authority Alaa Rafati told Xinhua that the plan is to transfer the running of the crossing points to the Palestinian private sector in order to overcome an economical crisis and Israel's blockade of the enclave.

"Running the crossings will be the mission of the private sector," Rafati said, adding that "the government's role is to present policies, make laws and legislation and create a proper atmosphere for the operation of the crossings".

Jawad Najji, the economy minister of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), said the Palestinian government did not officially receive any plan from Hamas or the Gaza's private sector on transferring the administration for the crossings to private sector in Gaza.

Najji declined to say whether the PNA would accept the proposal of Hamas or not, but noted that "the main crossing points on the borders are sovereign crossings and only run by the Palestinian National Authority".

Hamas, which has been running the crossing points in the Gaza Strip, does not have any direct political or economic ties with Israel.

Israel imposed a tight blockade on Gaza in June 2007, right after Hamas had violently seized control of it.

The Palestinians dug hundreds of tunnels underneath the borders with Egypt. However, after the ouster of former Egyptian Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in last July, more than 95 percent of the tunnels have been destroyed by the Egyptian army.

The crackdown caused a severe economic crisis for the Hamas.

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