Thousands of starving Palestinians storm into Egypt after Hamas blows hole in concrete border fence

Last updated at 20:52 23 January 2008

More than 350,000 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip stormed across the border into Egypt.

The exodus happened after Hamas militants blew a hole in the metal and concrete border fence.

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palestinians storm egypt wall

On donkeys,in cars and on foot,the huge crowd streamed through in search of food and fuel, in an attempt to evade Israel's crippling blockade on the region.

The Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak ordered his security forces to stand by while the crowds poured across.

"I told them to let them come in and buy food and then return them later as long as they were not carrying weapons," he said.

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palestinians storm egypt wall

The UN said at least 350,000 swarmed across the border, buying food, clothes and building supplies to use or sell on in Gaza, where unemployment has topped 50 per cent.

The breaching of the seven-mile fence is the latest move in an escalating crisis between Israel and the Hamascontrolled Gaza Strip.

Israel imposed the blockade after more than 450 rockets were launched by Hamas at Israeli towns since the beginning of January - up to one an hour.