EL-ARISH, Egypt: Around 2,000 Palestinians are still trapped in Egypt after the latest batch was allowed to return home to the Gaza Strip via Israel on Monday, a Palestinian security source told AFP.
The source said that 900 Palestinians had reached the Al-Oja (Nizana) checkpoint, to the east of the divided town of Rafah on the Egypt-Gaza border, from where they would cross into Israel and then travel on to the Gaza Strip.
Israel began allowing the Palestinians to return home on July 29, after they had been stranded for more than six weeks since the Gaza Strip was taken over on June 15 by the Islamist Hamas movement.
Around 1,750 Palestinians are now thought to remain in Egypt of the original 6,000 who had been living for weeks in dire circumstances in the desert border area, often lacking basic facilities.
The source said that Palestinians would continue to leave over the coming days. However, the fate of a number of stranded Hamas supporters remains uncertain as they would be arrested by Israel if they used the Al-Oja crossing.
When open, Rafah is operated in close cooperation by Egypt, European Union monitors, Israel and the Palestinians, and can be closed if any one party refuses to participate.
Hamas, which does not recognize Israel, has objected to the Jewish state being able to control who is allowed to travel from Egypt into Gaza. -AFP