A Palestinian woman crosses the toppled iron wall that once separated Egypt from the Gaza Strip.
It was, at once, a well-planned attack and a spontaneous response to months of building pressure.
Before dawn, Palestinian militants blew up and tore down large sections of the concrete and iron walls separating the Gaza Strip from Egypt.
They had apparently been planning the attack for weeks. With the knowledge of locals, militants had spent weeks methodically using blow torches to cut along the bottom of the 30-foot-tall corrugated iron wall along the Egyptian border.
Before dawn on Wednesday, militants blew holes in the adjacent concrete slabs and then toppled the iron wall.
Within hours, with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's blessing, tens of thousands of Palestinians trapped by Israel's seven-month-old economic blockade of Gaza were flooding into Egypt.
They went in search of olive oil, cheese, gasoline, cigarettes, concrete, dish soap, chips, Coke... all the things that Israel stopped shipping into Gaza after Hamas militants seized control of Gaza in June.
“We’ve been choked, choked,” said Imm Fadi, a 40-year-old mother of five as she stood next to an Egyptian armored personnel carrier with her 11-year-old son. “Tell the Israelis to leave us alone. Tell the world to look at how we are living.”
The scene at the border was part chaos, part carnival.
Palestinians packed into taxis, hopped on donkey carts and stuffed themselves into empty Pepsi delivery trucks to catch a ride to the open border.
One man even jumped in the trunk of a taxi to get a lift south.
Along with those streaming out came a trickle of people coming home.
Many Palestinians were trapped outside Gaza when Hamas took control of Gaza in June. They had been stuck in Egypt for months and jumped at the opportunity to return home when the walls came down.
The story is still unfolding, so stay tuned...