Activists allowed into Gaza after days of protest

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of protesters gathered yesterday on Gaza's borders to mark the first anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, Israel's 22-day ground and air offensive on the territory in which 1,400 Palestinians died.

After days of pressure Egypt said it was allowing nearly 100 of the mainly foreign activists to cross into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip from its territory through the Rafah crossing. Some 1,400 activists from more than 40 countries have been in Cairo since Sunday attempting to march on Gaza, but Egypt has said the action is illegal and a threat to national security.

The activists have staged protests almost daily since Sunday, and members of the Gaza Freedom March claimed yesterday that they had been beaten by Egyptian riot police. Egypt imposes heavy restrictions on the movement of Palestinians and some foreigners. Cairo is also building a steel wall along its Gaza border to prevent smuggling.