Over a hundred Gazans return home

Palestinians enter via Nitzana following Hamas threats to shell Kerem Shalom.

gaza airstrike 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
gaza airstrike 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
More than 100 Palestinians stranded in Egypt for the past month returned to their homes in the Gaza Strip on Sunday after entering Israel through a rarely-used crossing near the borderline community of Nitzana. Egyptian buses brought the Palestinians to the crossing by bus. From there, they were taken to the Erez Crossing, where they crossed into Gaza. Some 6,000 Palestinians have been stranded in Egypt since the Rafah Crossing was closed following Hamas's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in June. Defense officials expressed satisfaction with the use of the Nitzana Crossing and said that the plan was to reopen the crossing on Monday to allow another several hundred Palestinians to return to Gaza. A tank flanked by bulldozers guarded the crossing on the Israeli side as the Palestinians arrived. At one point, IDF troops fired in the air to keep Palestinian journalists and relatives away from the crossing, setting up a buffer zone for the transfer. Ahmed Ihlel, 40, was returning to his home town of Rafah, next to the Egyptian border, after medical treatment in Egypt. "It's a tragedy that I used to live five minutes away from the Rafah crossing, and now we drove around the planet just to get home," he said. AP contributed to the report.