GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip, (AP) – Egyptian authorities on Sunday started letting stranded students, third-country residents and medical patients leave Gaza through the usually closed border, a spokesman for Palestinian officials at the crossing said.
Egypt has agreed to allow 500 students studying abroad and 500 other people with valid residency permits for Egypt or other countries to pass through the border crossing Sunday, Palestinian border spokesman Adel Zourab said. Another 800 medical cases were scheduled to cross on Monday, he said.
Egypt sealed the border after Islamic Hamas militants seized control of Gaza in June 2007. It has occasionally opened the passage for limited periods. Israel has also blockaded its border crossings with Gaza, allowing in only a limited amount of humanitarian aid.
Zourab, who represents the Hamas administration, said about 200 of the sick people might not be able to travel due to a delay in issuing them Palestinian passports by Hamas’ rival, the West Bank-based government of President Mahmoud Abbas.
The moderate Abbas government is backed by the West and recognized internationally, while Hamas is shunned as a terrorist organization by the U.S., European Union and Israel.
Representatives of Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah movement are expected to hold reconciliation talks in Egypt on Wednesday.