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Last group of Palestinians return from Egypt to Gaza

CAIRO, August 9 (RIA Novosti) - The last group of about 400 Palestinians stranded in northern Egypt since the Rafah border crossing was closed have returned to Gaza via Israel, Egypt's Middle East News Agency said Thursday.

The Rafah crossing was closed in June after fighters of the Islamist Hamas movement seized control of the Gaza Strip. About 6,000 Palestinians were left waiting in northern Sinai for the border to reopen.

The last batch of Gazans traveled back to the enclave via the Al Awja crossing from Egypt into Israel.

Almost all of the Palestinians have returned to their homes during the two-week operation, while around 30 remain in Egypt, saying they refuse to travel through Israeli territory, fearing arrest by Israeli security forces.

The Rafah checkpoint on Gaza's short border with Egypt provides the only means of entering or leaving the enclave without passing through Israeli territory. However, Israel has the right to close the checkpoint and conduct video monitoring.

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