"We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians." – Nelson Mandela

Hamas seeks to reopen airport in southern Gaza

Hamas ask Egypt for help reopening airport that has been closed since 2001; Mashaal expected to visit Strip for first time.

Palestinians survey a building at an abandoned airport in the southern Gaza Strip

Photo: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

The Hamas government is working toward reopening the only airport in the Gaza  Strip.

Named after Yasser Arafat, the airport, which is located close to  the Egyptian border, opened in 1998, when the Palestinian Authority was still in  control of the Gaza Strip.

The airport was closed in 2001 after being  damaged by the IDF.

Ziad al-Thatha, Hamas’s deputy prime minister, said  that his government has asked the Egyptians to help reopen the airport. He did  not say when and if it would resume operations.

It is also not clear  whether the PA leadership in the West Bank would allow Hamas to run the  facility

In the past, the PA opposed the presence of Hamas  representatives at the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and  Egypt.

The Hamas official, who headed his movement’s delegation to the  recent Egyptian- sponsored cease-fire talks with Israel, said that Israel has agreed to allow construction material into the Gaza Strip.

He said  that understandings reached with Israel and Egypt also permit the export of  agricultural products, furniture and clothes from the Strip.

Thatha did  not say whether the Egyptians had agreed to discuss the issue of the airport  with Israel.

The airport was built with funding from Japan, Saudi Arabia,  Spain, Germany and Egypt. It was designed by Moroccan architects and cost  more than $85 million.

Meanwhile, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza  Strip, Issa al- Nashar, announced that Khaled Mashaal, chairman of the Hamas  Political Bureau, is expected to visit the Gaza Strip Thursday for the first  time.

Nashar said that Mashaal and other Hamas leaders would participate  in celebrations marking the anniversary of the founding of the Islamist movement  and “victory” over Israel during last month’s Operation Pillar of  Defense.

“This is an historic visit,” he said. “It comes in the aftermath  of our big victory.”

Nashar said Mashaal would be accompanied by his  deputy, Musa Abu Marzouk.

Source: www.jpost.com

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