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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

6,000 Stranded Palestinians Begin Returning from Egypt

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Palestinians stranded for weeks at the Egyptian border after the violent Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip have started trickling back home, but most are still being turned away.

More than 100 made the circuitous route Sunday northward to the Nitzana crossing between Egypt and Israel, boarding Israeli buses and making their way back south to Gaza. Another 500 were expected to follow the same route Monday -- but the other 5,000 waiting to cross were told to head the other direction toward Cairo and apply for permission to return home.

Also Sunday, Israel reversed decades of opposition and endorsed the sale of U.S. arms to Saudi Arabia, because the aim is to counter Iran, and Israel will receive a significant increase in U.S. military assistance.

The Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip last month triggered the closure of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, which was run by Palestinian security with European supervision and Israeli security in the background -- stranding about 6,000 Palestinians on the Egyptian side.

During the violence, the European monitors fled and Hamas militiamen took control of the terminal. Rafah is the only crossing from Gaza that does not go through Israel.

The first three Palestinians crossed into Gaza through the Erez checkpoint late Sunday afternoon. They were greeted with kisses and hugs from relatives, who rushed them away from the scene in cars.

Both Israel and Egypt have opposed reopening the crossing as long as Hamas remains in charge there.