Egyptian security guards have fired into the air and used water cannon to drive back Palestinian women who tried to surge across the border from Gaza.
Hundreds of Palestinians demanded the Rafah crossing to Egypt be reopened for vital supplies that are scarce because of Israel's blockade of Gaza.
A number of people were injured, mostly in scuffles, but several were seriously hurt, according to reports.
It came as Israel eased a four-day Gaza lockdown by allowing fuel deliveries.
The UN Security Council met in an emergency session on Tuesday to discuss Gaza.
As the 15-member body met in New York, Israel said its discussions were one-sided.
Its foreign ministry said in a statement: "We can't tolerate a situation where the Security Council debates only the situation of residents in the Gaza Strip and completely ignores that of Israelis living under the constant threat of Qassam rockets."
Since Hamas seized control of Gaza last June, the Rafah crossing has remained mostly closed at Israel's insistence.
But violence broke out as Palestinians tried to get past Egyptian security forces at the terminal, Gaza's only border post that bypasses Israel.
Gunfire erupted as security forces tried to stop hundreds of demonstrators breaking through to the Egyptian side.
One of the protesters, mother-of-five Umm Mohammed, 42, told AFP news agency: "Why doesn't Egypt open the crossing? Because [US President George W Bush] gives them dollars."
The trouble came as Israel said its blockade - imposed last week in response to rocket attacks from Gaza - was being eased only for Tuesday and would be reviewed after that.
The UN had warned that food aid to about 860,000 Gazans could be halted within days because of the restrictions.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice blamed Hamas for the lockdown but said she had urged Israel to avoid a humanitarian crisis.
Israel allowed lorries to deliver industrial diesel for Gaza's sole power plant on Tuesday.
The Israeli foreign ministry said it would allow more fuel to be delivered in the coming days along with food and medicine.
But Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas labelled the move "insufficient" and called for a total end to the blockade.
He said civilians in Gaza were not responsible for the "futile launchings" of rockets into Israel.
The blockade forced the Nusseirat power plant to shut down on Monday, plunging Gaza City into darkness.
But Israel accused Hamas of "fabricating" the power shortage, saying it was still directly providing nearly 70% of the coastal territory's power.
The Israeli government said its lockdown had stopped missile attacks - although another rocket struck the Israeli town of Sderot on Tuesday.
But Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said: "The real crisis of our Palestinian people is the continuing siege on the Gaza Strip."
The European Union and international agencies have denounced Israel's border closures as illegal "collective punishment" against Gaza's 1.5m residents.
Israel imposed an economic embargo on Gaza after the Islamist militants of Hamas seized control of the territory from the rival Fatah group in June.
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