Around 4000 people have been strandedon the Egyptian side of the Rafah border corossing as they attempted to get home over the last 19 days.

However, Cairo has received assurances the crossing will open for eight hours straight on Friday.

An Israeli military source told Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Ghait "there is a very high chance that it will reopen tomorrow".

Earlier, al-Ghait had urged the United Nations to intervene to help those suffering at the border.

Argument

Israel claims the Palestinian Authority originally exacerbated the problem by rejecting an offer to use a small alternative route via Israeli territory.

But the alternative would only allow 200 people a day to reach the occupied Gaza strip, and would not have helped Palestinians that support families by working in Egypt.

"I had to bury my wife in a cemetery at the Egyptian side after I failed to convince the Israelis to let me bring her body back to Gaza"

Salih Lubad,
Palestinian widower
 

Israel's Physicians for Human Rights then wrote a letter to the Israeli Defence Minister, Shaul Mofaz, saying that Israel is responsible for the unnecessary suffering of children camped out in the summer heat.

Occupation forces have even prevented the dead from being brought to Rafah for burial.

No exceptions

Salih Lubad was prevented from taking his wife's body to Gaza after she died in Cairo, despite appeals to the military and Israeli human rights groups.

"I had to bury my wife in a cemetery at the Egyptian side after I failed to convince the Israelis to let me bring her body back to Gaza to be buried in the family cemetery."

The US, France and Egypt have called upon Israel to reopen the terminal and allow the stranded Palestinians to cross into the Gaza Strip.

Israel said that it closed the terminal because it received warning that Palestinian resistance was planning to attack Israeli employees working in the terminal.