Thousands of Palestinian travelers gathered at Gaza’s border crossing with Egypt on Thursday hoping for a brief chance to leave after Cairo temporarily opened a frontier it largely keeps closed as it battles an Islamist insurgency on the other side.
Israel also maintains tight restrictions on its border with the Gaza Strip, meaning the 2 million Palestinians who live there are rarely able to leave the densely-populated enclave in which the Hamas Islamist movement is the dominant armed force.
Egypt tends to open the frontier temporarily a few times a year, usually with short notice and little explanation. The latest opening began on Wednesday with no advanced announcement at all.
It was only the second time in more than a decade that the border was opened while unarmed security officers of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA), rather than Hamas, guarded the Palestinian side.
A reconciliation agreement in October between Hamas and the rival Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gave the PA control of the Rafah crossing for the first time since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. Egypt opened the border briefly in December. (Reuters)