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Gaza opening a letdown for Palestinians

May 29, 2011 at 3:50 PM   |   Comments

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RAFAH, Gaza, May 29 (UPI) -- The first day of Egypt's opening of a Gaza border crossing saw little change, with long waits and security blacklists, Palestinians said.

By nightfall Saturday, 400 Palestinians had crossed into Egypt at the Rafah crossing, and 30 were barred for being on a list of security risks, a senior Egyptian border officer told McClatchy Newspapers.

The numbers were similar to those days when the crossing was open, sporadically, under the old Hosni Mubarak regime. The post closed early for lack of staffing.

An irate Mufid al-Masry shouted at the Egyptian guards: "I've been locked in Gaza for the past seven years and just wanted a breath of fresh air! If you were locked up for seven years, wouldn't you be yelling like me?"

The new policy, which reverts to the rules in place before the Gaza blockade in 2007, lets Palestinian women and children stay in Egypt for a month without visas. Men between 18 and 40 need a special permit, and men over 40 are allowed unless their names appear as security risks on a list from the former regime.

Egyptians and foreigners still need special permission to enter Gaza.

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