Egypt opens Gaza border for pilgrims

Egypt opened its border crossing with Gaza on Monday to let in Palestinian religious pilgrims headed for Saudi Arabia for the first time.

Egypt opens Gaza border for pilgrims

Egypt opened its border crossing with Gaza on Monday to let in Palestinian religious pilgrims headed for Saudi Arabia — the first time Palestinians have been allowed to enter Egyptian territory since Hamas seized Gaza in June.

Some 700 pilgrims hoped to pass through Egypt on Monday after receiving visas from Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina. One busload crossed through by mid-morning.

Salah al-Rikib, Hamas' deputy minister for religious affairs, said his government smuggled the passports of 2,200 Gaza pilgrims through a tunnel into Egypt, where the Saudi Arabian consulate issued them visas. The passports were then returned to Gaza through a tunnel, he said.

The pilgrimage, or hajj, is an obligation every Muslim is expected to carry out once in a lifetime.

Egypt and Israel closed the borders with Gaza after the Hamas takeover, confining 1.5 million Gazans to the crowded territory.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Aralık 2007, 09:39
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