Gunmen, believed to be from the armed wing of the governing Palestinian movement Hamas, blew a hole in the wall around 70 meters from the Rafah border terminal, witnesses said.
Palestinians crossing the Rafah crossing (Photo: AP)
As a result, hundreds of travellers blocked at the Rafah terminal managed to cross into Gaza, forcing their way past Palestinian and Egyptian security guards.
The terminal, Gaza's sole gateway to the world that bypasses Israel, has been closed since June 25 amid a crisis sparked by the capture of a teenage Israeli soldier by Palestinian militants, including those from Hamas.
Up to 6,000 people have since been stranded on the Egyptian side of the terminal unable to cross into the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian security sources. Several have died of heat exhaustion in recent weeks.
Palestinian militants have regularly breached the wall separating Gaza from Egypt, most recently on June 29, when border guards prevented civilians from crossing to either side.
Last September militants blew a gaping hole in the barrier, enabling hundreds of Palestinians to surge into Egypt shortly after Israel withdrew all its settlers and ground troops after a 38-year occupation of Gaza.
Since the launching of the IDF’s “Summer Rains” operation in Gaza following the June 25 kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit, European observers left the crossing, which was later shut down as a result.
The Arab League offered financial assistance to the thousands of Palestinians who were stuck on both sides of the crossing.
Palestinians said a number of sick people died due to the fact that they were prevented from passing through Rafah.
At the end of June gunmen managed to blow up part of the border fence, allowing many Palestinians to pass to and from Egypt.