World Bulletin / News Desk
Mohamed al-Makadmeh, director of Information at the Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs, said the step had been taken because the funeral of former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres -- who passed away Wednesday -- would be held the same day.
"The Israeli authorities have officially informed us of their decision to cancel the visits of 300 Gazan worshipers [to Jerusalem] because Peres’ funeral is scheduled to be held on Friday," al-Makadmeh said.
Peres passed away early Wednesday at the age of 93, two weeks after suffering a stroke.
"The Israelis told us that security in Jerusalem would be stepped up, preventing Gaza residents from visiting the city or praying at Al-Aqsa," al-Makadmeh said.
Blockaded by Israel since 2007, the Gaza Strip has seven border crossings linking it to the outside world. Six of these are controlled by Israel, while the seventh is controlled by Egypt, which keeps it tightly sealed for the most part.
Israel sealed most of its crossings with Gaza in mid-2007 after Palestinian resistance movement Hamas wrested control of the coastal enclave from the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority.