Palestinians allowed to go home

Egyptian and Palestinian police allowed hundreds of people stranded on the wrong sides of the border to return home Tuesday evening, a day after the border had been sealed to prevent the chaotic, illegal crossings of the previous week.

Buses carrying Palestinians from the Egyptian side entered Gaza through an opening in the cement wall some 50 meters (yards) from the official Rafah crossing point, passing other buses carrying Egyptians returning from Gaza, the AP reports.

Egyptian police used dogs to sniff the baggage of the Palestinians before they boarded the buses to make sure that they weren't carrying explosives or drugs.

On the Egyptian side, they checked identifications of the returnees and questioned them on why they had crossed the border.

In the past few days, border officials have been allowing Palestinians and Egyptians to return to their territories, but not to visit each other's land. Thousands of Palestinians and Egyptians surged across the border illegally last week in the relaxed conditions that followed Israel's withdrawal from the Strip on Sept. 12.

However, Palestinians said the border officials sealed the Rafah crossing late Monday, leaving many Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side.

Earlier Tuesday, more than 1,000 Palestinians gathered near the crossing but were prevented by Egyptian police from returning until officials from both sides met to discuss the border situation.

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