Egypt on Saturday opened its border with the Gaza Strip to allow stranded Palestinians and Egyptians to cross in two directions, Palestinian security sources said.
Five busses left the Gaza Strip through Rafah crossing when its gates were opened Saturday and one bus entered the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, the sources added.
The crossing will remain open until late Sunday, the Interior Ministry of the Islamist Hamas movement that rules the Strip said, adding the gesture was intended to ease the suffering of stranded people prior to the beginning of Muslim's holy fasting month of Ramadan in early September, reported dpa.
Some 150 Egyptians, who have been stuck in Gaza since January, will return home in addition to hundreds of Palestinians who live outside Gaza, according to Ihab al-Ghussein, spokesman for the ministry.
In total, 1200 people are expected to pass through Rafah crossing Saturday and 400 Palestinian patients will leave for medical treatment in Egypt tomorrow, al-Ghussein explained.
Hamas security forces took measures to prevent the flow of tens of thousands of Palestinians to the crossing, setting checkpoints to allow only the patients and the stranded residents of foreign countries.
The Rafah crossing was completely closed last year when Hamas routed the security forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and ousted his Fatah movement.
According to a US-brokered protocol, the crossing cannot open without the presence of pro-Abbas forces and European Union monitors. Hamas demands to control the crossing instead of the Palestinian presidential guard forces, while the EU monitors do not recognize the Islamic movement.