The crossing is the only one in Gaza that bypasses Israel and has been generally closed since June 2006 when Palestinian fighters captured an Israeli soldier.

Israel has imposed a blockade on the narrow coastal territory following its takeover by the Hamas in June 2007.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian security official said on Monday that security forces have uncovered at least 13 tunnels used by smugglers to slip contrabands into Gaza.

According to the Israeli government, the border town of Rafah is frequently used as a crossing point for arms and explosives trafficked through underground  tunnels.

But Palestinians have said that the tunnels are a desperate response to an Israeli blockade of the poverty-stricken territory.