Rafah border crossing
Portraits of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas hang at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on November 1, 2017. Hamas handed over control of the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt to the Palestinian Authority on 1 November SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)

The Islamic militant group Hamas has handed over control of Gaza's border crossings with Israel and Egypt to the internationally recognised Palestinian Authority (PA).

The handover, on 1 November, was the first tangible step in implementing a reconciliation deal between Hamas and the rival Fatah party, which controls the PA.

Hamas seized control of Gaza from Fatah forces a decade ago. Hamas recently agreed to return control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority.

Handing over the crossings is aimed at easing an Israeli-Egyptian blockade that was imposed on Gaza to isolate Hamas.

Hamas and Fatah were involved in an armed conflict that resulted in the split of the interim government body, the PA, in 2007. Hamas has been controlling the Gaza Strip ever since.

The two organisations have failed to form a unity government and, for the past 11 years, the territories have failed to hold elections in which both groups take part.

Fatah spokesperson Osama Qawasmeh told Al Jazeera the move will improve the lives of Palestinians.

"This will no doubt help enable a huge part of people's lives to travel outside the Gaza Strip for whatever reason such as seeking medical treatment, undertaking a scholarship in a university and leisurely travel," he said.

"The movement of products will be facilitated quicker and will make it easier for import and export trade," he added.

Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesperson, made similar remarks: "We hope that handing over control would lead to a better quality of life for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip" .

The Palestinian rivals are scheduled to meet on 21 November in Cairo to discuss other sticking points that have derailed previous reconciliation attempts, including the fate of some 40,000 public servants hired by Hamas and the vast arsenal of Hamas' military wing.