RAFAH, Egypt A smattering of Hamas-affiliated security forces, many of them bearded and dressed in blue camouflage uniforms, fanned out on both sides of the breached Gaza-Egypt border Sunday to jointly police the crossing with Egyptian guards.
Though only about a dozen Hamas forces took up positions, it was their first significant action on the Egyptian side of the border in the five days since Palestinian militants blasted through the partition. Since then, tens of thousands of Gazans have flooded into Egypt to buy food, fuel and other goods made scarce by an Israeli closure of the territory.
Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 and forcibly seized control of Gaza from the rival Fatah faction in June. But the Islamic militant group had no role in controlling Gaza's border crossings before the breach on Wednesday.
Now, Hamas is hoping to change that.
The temporary cooperation appeared to be between low-level security guards on the ground, and not indicative of any change in policy by Hamas or the Egyptian government, which are still far apart on the question of future control of the border.
Egypt wants to restore an arrangement whereby the border was controlled jointly by the Palestinian Authority headed by Fatah, Israel and European monitors. Hamas rejects the old system and is pushing for a new one where it has a role.
Hundreds of Egyptian forces have been deployed around the border for several days, and some guards have also crossed briefly into Gaza. The Egyptians have been struggling to re-establish control along the border. But for the fifth straight day, Palestinians moved unimpeded back and forth across the frontier.
The Hamas forces appeared to be coordinating efforts to restore order at the border with their Egyptian counterparts, jointly directing traffic and manning checkpoints. Both Hamas and the Egyptians were urging Gaza motorists to go back home.
Streets on the Egyptian side of the town of Rafah, which was divided in half by the border, were jammed with people bargaining for gasoline, water bottles, carpets and other supplies.