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Hezbollah salutes Egypt’s decision to open Rafah crossing
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BEIRUT: Hezbollah praised Monday the Egyptian authorities’ decision to permanently open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza, partially lifting the siege on the Palestinian people.

“Hezbollah, which always requested the opening of the crossing, and considers it a national, moral and humanitarian request to ease the suffering of the Palestinian people, congratulates the Egyptian authorities for their decision,” a statement released by Hezbollah’s press office said.

“This decision is a new gift from Egypt following the Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation between the Palestinian factions,” it added, in reference to the reconciliation agreement reached by Hamas and Fatah earlier this month.

Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency said last week that the Rafah crossing would be opened permanently starting Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, except Fridays and holidays.

The opening gives Palestinians in Gaza a way to enter and exit their territory for the first time since 2007, when Hamas took control of the territory, and Israel and Egypt closed their borders.

Ties between Egypt and Hezbollah saw mounting tensions under ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s regime after Egyptian authorities arrested Mohammad Youssef Mansour and 22 members of his group in Egypt in 2008, following their indictment for plotting several attacks in the country.

Hezbollah officials have rejected Egyptian allegations against Mansour and his team, claiming that Mansour was in Egypt for a logistical mission to transport arms and other supplies across the Egyptian-Gaza border in order to assist the Palestinians who had been under an Israeli blockade since 2006.

Mansour escaped jail during the country’s popular uprising, which Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has described as a turning point in the history of the region and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Nasrallah said the Egyptian uprising has caused “panic” in Israel because the Mubarak regime made “strategic services” to the Jewish state, from the 1979 Camp David Accords. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 31, 2011, on page 2.
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