Al Jazeera's Todd Baer, reporting form Rafah, said it was a day of celebration.

"The mood here for the first time in an awful long time is one of great happiness for those few who are being able to cross the border," he said.

However, many Palestinians in Gaza will not be able to enter Egypt, Baer said.

"We are being told by officials here that some 200 people who desperately need to go to Egypt for medical treatment at better equipped hospitals than they have here in Gaza, do not have the correct paperwork," he said.

Rafah has been largely closed since June 2006, when fighters seized an Israeli soldier in a deadly cross-border raid.

Under a 2005 agreement struck after Israel withdrew settlers and soldiers from Gaza, Rafah was operated jointly by Egyptian and Palestinian officials with European Union observers and cameras allowing Israel to monitor live.

Hamas seized power in Gaza in June 2007 after street clashes with rivals from the secular Fatah of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

Since then, Israel has tightened its blockade on the Palestinian territory where most of its 1.4 million  inhabitants survive on foreign aid.