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RAFAH, Gaza Strip (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Palestinians poured into Egypt from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday through a border wall blown up by militants and stocked up on food and fuel in short supply due to an Israeli blockade.
"Those people are hungry for freedom, for food and for everything," said an Egyptian shopkeeper who gave her name only as Hamida, as she surveyed shelves that had been emptied swiftly by Gazans paying with Egyptian pounds and Israeli shekels.
Residents of Rafah, a divided town straddling the Egypt-Gaza frontier, said militants set off explosions overnight that demolished about 200 meters (yards) of the now-rusting, 6-metre (20-foot)-high metal border wall erected by Israel in 2004, a year before it pulled troops and settlers from the territory.
The fall of the Rafah wall punched a new hole in Israeli efforts to keep pressure on the Gaza Strip in the face of an international outcry over shortages in the territory Palestinians call a giant jail.
A border terminal in Rafah, once a main avenue to the outside world for Gazans, has been largely closed since Hamas Islamists opposed to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's peace efforts with Israel violently took over the Gaza Strip in June.
Egyptian riot police sent to reinforce the border mainly stood aside and let the Palestinians through, witnesses said, a day after they drove back Gazans who stormed the Rafah crossing.