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Egypt opens Gaza border

Saturday, May 28, 2011 - 02:37

May 28 - Egypt eases Israeli blockade of the Gaza strip, making it easier for Palestinians to cross the Rafah border into its territory, previously tightly controlled by Mubarak regime. Sunita Rappai reports

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Palestinians in Gaza wait patiently to have their passports stamped at the border crossing with Egypt. With Egypt easing its travel restrictions on Saturday, nearly 300 people flocked to the border at Rafah to make the crossing. Under the new guidelines, women, minors and men over 40 will no longer require a visa to enter, opening the doors to hundreds more visitors. The crossing will also operate for six days a week instead of five and working hours have been extended by two hours. The move has been welcomed by Gaza residents, blockaded by Israel since Hamas seized control in 2007. SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) RESIDENT OF GAZA, FAEIZ AKILA, SAYING: "I am so happy and I hope this terminal will be like international terminals. I lived in Germany for forty years, we drive 7000 kilometres and nobody asks about our identities and we pass through many countries. But in Arab and Muslims countries we are being humiliated when crossing borders. I hope it will be better." Politicians from both Fatah and Hamas, with whom Egypt brokered a reconciliation deal, hailed the move as the beginning of a new era.. Nabil Shaath from Fatah said Egypt had taken a brave step. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) NABIL SHAATH, SENIOR MEMBER OF FATAH PARTY WHO IS VISITING GAZA, SAYING: "We are very happy because it is a brave Egyptian decision to open the border and to open the prison that was imposed by Israel on Gaza. The siege is illegal according to all the United Nations laws. All the people in the world travel, move and come back to their country. The Israeli crime to impose siege on The Gaza strip is internationally illegal. The Egyptian government took their brave decision alone, without negotiating with Hamas or Fatah. It only opened the gate." The move suggests a further policy shift in Egypt since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in February. Israel, which had expressed hope that the clampdown would remain in place, declined to comment. Sunita Rappai, Reuters

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Egypt opens Gaza border

Saturday, May 28, 2011 - 02:37