Egypt briefly opens Gaza border

Monday, February 23, 2009

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Hundreds of travelers left blockaded Gaza for Egypt on Sunday, in one of the sporadic openings that enable students, patients and others with Egyptian visas to cross the border.

About 1,000 university students and holders of foreign residency permits were eligible to cross, and by mid-afternoon Sunday, about 600 people had made the trip, border officials said.

Also Sunday, the bodies of four people were found in a smuggling tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border, a day after another body was discovered in the area.

Medics said all five suffocated.

The 20-month closure of Gaza by Israel and Egypt has boosted smuggling of arms and consumer goods through hundreds of border tunnels. Israel destroyed dozens of tunnels during its three-week offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers last month, but smuggling continues.

-- Associated Press

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