World Bulletin / News Desk
The first group of Palestinian pilgrims from the Gaza Strip left the seaside enclave on Thursday en route to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
"The pilgrims crossed the Rafah border crossing [with Egypt] en route to Saudi Arabia," Maher Abu Sabha, head of the Palestinian border crossings authority, told Anadolu Agency.
He said that the first batch includes 266 pilgrims.
For his part, Deputy Palestinian Minister of Religious Affairs Hassan al-Saifi said that some 2,508 pilgrims from the Gaza Strip will go on pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia this year.
He said that a total of 6,280 Palestinians would perform the annual rite this year, including 1,000 whose trip would be funded by the Saudi government.
Located on the border between Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, the Rafah crossing has turned into a sore point in Egyptian-Palestinian relations several years ago.
The crossing, which is dedicated for the movement of persons, foodstuffs and medicine, was most of the time closed down by Egyptian authorities, especially since last year's military ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi.
Gazans have always complained that the crossing closure makes their suffering – induced by Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip – even worse.Last Mod: 18 Eylül 2014, 10:11