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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Israel agrees to let 900 Gazans enter en route to Hajj in Mecca

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/12/israel-agrees-to-let-900-gazans-enter.html

Last update - 14:54 16/12/2007    
 
 Israel agrees to let 900 Gazans enter en route to Hajj in Mecca
 By The Associated Press 
 
Israel agreed to let about 900 Gaza pilgrims travel through Israeli territory en route to a Muslim pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, Palestinian and Israeli officials said.
 
Israeli officials said the passage through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing was under way at midday, but couldn't specify how many Gazans had actually crossed.
 
Hussein El Sheikh, head of the civil affairs department in the government of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the 900 pilgrims would be let through Erez by Monday morning, if not earlier.
The pilgrimage to the Saudi holy city of Mecca, known as the hajj, is an obligation every able-bodied Muslim is expected to carry out once in a lifetime. But the Islamic Hamas group's takeover of Gaza in June has encumbered the visits because both Israel and Egypt have all but sealed their borders with the territory to passenger traffic.
 
Several weeks ago, Egypt opened its border to hundreds of Gaza pilgrims - the first time Gazans were permitted to enter Egyptian territory since the Hamas takeover.
 
The pilgrims traveling on Sunday were to drive in a convoy through Israel to the West Bank town of Jericho, and from there to Jordan, where they were to board flights to Saudi Arabia, El Sheikh said.
 
The Israeli approval was given at the last minute. The pilgrimage, or hajj, ends on Tuesday with the beginning of the four-day Eid al-Adha feast.
 


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