Egypt and Israel reopened the Rafah border crossing Tuesday for the first time in three weeks. Some 300 Palestinians entered the Gaza Strip in the first hour. Another 5,000 Palestinians were waiting on the Egyptian side to go back to Gaza.
The crossing would be open for only one day - a time limit set by Israel, Palestinian official Hani Jabour told The Associated Press. In Jerusalem, an Israeli military spokesman told the AP that the European monitors at Rafah crossing would assess whether the border could remain open.
News of the opening spread fast on the Egyptian side and the road between Rafah and El-Arish, the biggest town in northern Sinai, was quickly filled with cars and minibuses carrying Palestinians to the border.
The crossing was closed June 25 after Palestinian fighters from Gaza Strip crossed into Israel and captured an Israeli soldier from a military outpost. Rafah crossing is the Gaza Strip's only gate to the outside world that does not pass through Israel.
Six Palestinians died at the crossing over the past three weeks. Hundreds of trapped Palestinians managed to enter the Strip on Friday evening after tens of armed Palestinian men stormed the site and blasted a number of holes in the border fence around it, allowing hundreds to enter in the confusion that ensued until the PA and Egyptian security elements managed to control the situation.
Meanwhile, eight Palestinians were detained Tuesday by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank, witnesses and security sources said. Security sources told WAFA that Israeli force captured four Palestinians in the city of Hebron. The sources added that Israeli soldiers broke into several houses in the villages of Bani Naim and Beit Ommar, in Hebron, and took the four.
Local and security sources added that Israeli troops thrust into various areas in Bethlehem, Qalailia, and Tubbas, and detained four others.