Egypt Permanently Opens Gaza Border Crossing

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Egypt formally opened the Rafah border crossing on Saturday, ending a four-year closure following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007.

Both Hamas and Fatah were pleased with Egypt's decision to reopen the crossing.

Israel voiced concern that Hamas will have a freer hand to smuggle weapons and terrorists in and out of Gaza didn't affect the decison by Egypt's interim government.

An officer with COGAT -- Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories -- said opening the border would allow larger quantities of arms than the "vast quantities of weaponry being smuggled into the Gaza Strip via the tunnels."

Israeli Vice Premier Silvan Shalom called the Egyptian move "dangerous."

Kadima chairwoman and opposition leader Tzipi Livni used the occasion to criticize the Netanyahu government.

"We should be concerned when we see Israel's situation deteriorating, not only in theoretical terms but also in the opening of the Rafah crossing," Livni said on her Facebook page. Livni also criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's position on the infeasibility of returning to the 1967 armistice lines.  

According to Palestinian sources, 450 passngers entered Egypt on Saturday.

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