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Egyptian state news agency Mena says Egypt is to open the Rafah border crossing into Gaza permanently to most Palestinians from May 27.

The agency said the only crossing into Gaza that bypasses Israel will be opened from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day except Fridays and holidays.

Mena reported that all Palestinian women as well as men under 18 or over 40 will be exempted from visas.

It said the move by Egypt's transitional military government was part of efforts "to end the status of the Palestinian division and achieve national reconciliation."

The announcement is likely to anger Israel, which says the Gaza blockade is needed to stop weapons being smuggled into the territory.

Gaza has been under blockade since 2007, when the militant group Hamas took control of the territory. Under ex-President Hosni Mubarak, ousted in February, Egypt helped Israel to enforce it.

compiled from agency reports