Israel allows 199 Palestinians to leave Gaza, easing blockade

Israel let 199 Palestinians out of the blockaded Gaza Strip on Sunday, and an Israeli official said more would be allowed to leave for their countries of residence later this week. Five busloads of Palestinians entered Israeli territory and then crossed into Egypt through the Kerem Shalom border crossing, said Shadi Yassin, a spokesman for the Israeli civil administration. About 50 others who were expected to pass today are now scheduled to be released tomorrow, Yassin said. Israeli security forces prevented two others from leaving Gaza. "We intend to continue to get as many people as possible out of Gaza over the next few days," Yassin said. "This is the first time ever that people have been crossed through Kerem Shalom," a crossing where the borders of Gaza, Egypt and Israel meet.