Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip, says it wants Israel and Egypt to keep the border crossings with its coastal territory open on a permanent basis. The message that Hamas has been relaying to Israel and Egypt has been along the lines of: If you seek a cease-fire, you must reopen, on a permanent basis, the Kerem Shalom commercial border crossing (with Israel) and the Rafah terminal along the border with Egypt.
It is worth noting that the Kerem Shalom border crossing has been open for most of the time in the past few years, with Israel allowing the entry of goods and medical supplies into the Gaza Strip. Recently, Israel shut down the border crossing temporarily, but only after Palestinian rioters had set the terminal on fire at least twice in the previous weeks. Israel’s decision temporarily to shut down the Kerem Shalom also came in response to hundreds of kite and balloon arson attacks launched from the Gaza Strip against Israel, and which have set fire to more than 30,000 dunams (more than 7,400 acres) of land in southern Israel.
The Rafah border crossing with Egypt is a different story altogether. For the past few years, the Egyptian authorities have kept the terminal almost completely shut. Why? Because the Egyptians do not like Hamas in particular and the Palestinians in general. They see Hamas as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and suspect that the Gaza-based group has been involved with Islamist terror groups waging war on the Egyptian army in the Sinai Peninsula.