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Last Updated: Friday, 18 February, 2005, 16:42 GMT
Gaza crossing re-opened to young
Crossing into Gaza from Egypt
The crossing ban has created a feeling of imprisonment in Gaza
Israel has announced it is to re-open the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt to young Palestinians.

The crossing was closed to Palestinians aged 16-35 several months ago because of escalating tension.

The move comes as Palestinian deportees are allowed back into the West Bank and Israel declares an end to the policy of razing suicide bombers' houses.

The measures are part of a deal agreed in a truce between Israel and the Palestinians earlier this month.

An Israeli defence ministry spokeswoman said the lifting of the travel ban was one of a range of new measures designed to ease conditions for Palestinians.

The travel ban caused huge frustration in Gaza and disrupted many thousands of lives, reports the BBC's Alan Johnston in Gaza.
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Israel to stop demolishing suicide bombers' homes
Gaza-Egypt border to be re-opened to young Palestinians
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Palestinian Authority pledges to rein in militant groups
Israel to hand over five West Bank towns to Palestinians

But it is expected to be a couple of days before the order actually takes effect and young Palestinians are again able to move freely across the border.

The Israelis have controlled who comes and goes between Egypt and Gaza since they occupied the strip in 1967.

As tension escalated, about nine months ago a policy was implemented banning the vast majority of Palestinians aged between 16 and 35 from crossing what is effectively Gaza's only link to the outside world.

Its only other border is with Israel and very few Palestinians are allowed to cross on account of the threat posed by suicide bombers.

The shutting of the Egyptian frontier to huge numbers of young people has contributed greatly to the sense of claustrophobia in Gaza which locals often describe as a big prison.

Palestinians always regarded the travel ban as collective punishment.

Israel and the Palestinians



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