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The Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza says Egypt has opened its border with the territory for the first time this year

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza says Egypt has opened its border with the territory for the first time this year.

Hamas said Saturday that the Rafah crossing is open for two days. A few hundred people are expected to be able to pass through during that time.

Egypt and Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza in 2007, after Hamas seized the territory from forces loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Egypt only opens the border intermittently. Humanitarian aid and some goods enter Gaza from the Israel side.

Israel says the blockade is needed to prevent Hamas from importing weapons and other supplies that could be used for military purposes. Critics say it amounts to collective punishment of Gaza's 1.8 million residents.

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