Egypt has opened its Rafah border with Israel three months after President Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power in a popular uprising.
The crossing was closed after Hamas came to power in Gaza in 2007.
Women, children and men over 40 are allowed free movement. Men between the ages of 18 and 40 require a visa.
Trade remains banned, but the reopening is expected to improve the lot of the 1.3 million Palestinians who live cheek by jowl in one of the world’s most densely populated tracts of land.
One man crossing suffers from kidney problems and needs regular treatment:
“I was so happy to hear that the Egyptian border has opened. I came, I was welcomed and well treated by Palestinian officers. They put me in an ambulance and in five minutes I reached the Egyptian side of the crossing.”
Israel has criticised the move claiming they now face fresh security concerns and fear an increase in the flow of weapons moving into Gaza.
It is the second time the new regime in Egypt has upset Israel only last month Cairo pushed through the unity deal between Fatah and Hamas.
But for ordinary Gazans the Rafah crossing is the only gateway to the wider world.
“This is a great achievement and one we have been waiting for a long time, with God’s will. Thank God, it has become possible with God’s will and with the spirit of our brothers of the revolution.”
Severe shortages remain in Gaza and Mubarak’s decision to close the border was a bitter pill to swallow for most Egyptians.
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