Gaza, Al Ray - 436 pilgrims left the Gaza Strip on Sunday via the Rafah crossing, while seven others were turned away by the Egyptian authorities.
A spokesman of the Border Crossings Administration in Gaza told Al Ray that 436 Gaza citizens were allowed departure for Mecca to perform the minor pilgrimage ‘Umrah’ and seven denied access to the Egyptian territories without outspoken reasons.
580 returning Palestinians were let in Gaza after a long wait in the Egyptian territories.
The spokesman said the Egyptian authorities will reopen the Rafah crossing on Monday to the remaining pilgrims to leave for Mecca and the stranded to access Gaza.
The ‘Umra’ service is performed round the year by Muslims. However, the ‘Umra’ season usually begins two months before the holy month of Ramadan, as they believe that doing it during this period is much rewarding.
The number of Umra pilgrims who left for Mecca from across the Palestinian territories this year has reached some 50,000, of whom 40 thousand from West Bank, and the rest from Gaza, according to a Ministry of Religious Affairs report.
Departure of the Umra pilgrims from Gaza is coordinated by the Palestinian embassy in Egypt and is not affected by the current Egyptian restrictions on the opening of the Rafah crossing, which claimed to be for the unrest in the Sinai Peninsula.