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Radwan: stranded piligrims to return home
Radwan: stranded piligrims to return home
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Gaza, Alray - Over 1,000 Palestinian pilgrims stranded in Saudi Arabia will start returning home on Monday, a Gaza official said Saturday.

Ismail Radwan, the minister of endowment, told Alray that the pilgrims will return in three groups on Monday via Cairo airport, and will then travel to the Rafah crossing into Gaza on Tuesday.

It is hoped that all pilgrims will have returned by Thursday, he added.

"We instructed Palestinian parties on the importance of swiftly arranging the return of pilgrims," he added.

Some 1,600 Palestinian pilgrims have stranded in Saudi Arabia while performing the Umrah pilgrimage as unrest in Egypt has prevented them from returning home.

Some 900 pilgrims from the Gaza Strip were due to return home last Wednesday, but could not travel due to turmoil which saw the Egyptian army overthrow President Mohamed Mursi.

Egypt's military then closed the El-Arish airport and the Rafah crossing after a series of militant attacks in Sinai, including an attack on the airport.

Egyptian authorities partially reopened the Rafah crossing on Saturday from 11 a.m. until 3.30 p.m., a crossings official said.

Due to Israel's land, sea and air blockade on Gaza, Palestinians can only enter or leave the enclave through the Rafah terminal on Egypt's border.