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Residents of Gaza have called for the Rafah border crossing to reopen. It was closed by Egyptian authorities on Monday in response to the killing of 25 police officers in northern Sinai by suspected Islamist militants. Hundreds of people have been stranded because of the closure.

One woman among those waiting at the border said it was like “living in a birdcage” waiting for her owner “to open the door so they could escape”.

Attacks against the security forces in northern Sinai have increased since the military overthrow of the elected Islamist president of Egypt Mohamed Morsi on July 3.

The director of Gaza border crossings, Maher Abu Sabha, said that “the 1.8 million residents of the enclave need the border crossing for medical reasons, to study and to travel”. He added that they “are pressing issues” and it is “the right of all Palestinians to travel”.

The policemen killed on Monday were returning to their barracks in Rafah when they were attacked. Egyptian authorities said they were forced from their vehicles and shot.

It has been reported that the military has increased aerial surveillance and roadblocks in Sinai, demolished tunnels to Gaza and vowed to “cleanse” the region of militants.

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