Officials: Egypt allowing Palestinians to enter without permits, visas, ending Gaza blockade

Associated Press

CAIRO - Airport officials say Egypt is allowing Palestinians free entry into the country, ending part of a five-year blockade on the Gaza Strip.

The decision means Palestinians can freely leave Gaza. It also applies to Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Gaza is ruled by Hamas, a branch of new Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood. The blockade was imposed after Hamas took control of Gaza by force in 2007. It banned most Palestinians from leaving.

The officials said the decision was applied early Monday for the first time, when seven Palestinians waiting at Cairo International Airport were allowed into Egypt without the usual security clearances and visas. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

No formal announcement was made.

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