26 May 2011

Egypt to open border crossing into Gaza

9:01 am on 26 May 2011

Egypt is to open the Rafah border crossing into Gaza permanently to most Palestinians from Saturday, the Egyptian state news agency Mena says.

Gaza has been under blockade since 2007, when the Islamist Hamas movement took control of the territory, the BBC reports.

The government of former president Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in February, opposed the Hamas administration and helped Israel enforce the blockade.

Israel says the blockade is needed to stop weapons being smuggled into Gaza.

The Rafah crossing will be opened permanently from 9am to 9pm every day except Fridays and holidays, beginning Saturday 28 May, Mena said.

Palestinian women of all ages and will men under the age of 18 or over 40 would be exempted from visas.

Rafah is the only crossing into Gaza which bypasses Israel.