Hamas Blocks Mecca Pilgrims from Leaving Gaza

[Reuters] Nidal al-Mughrabi - Palestinian pilgrims bound for the annual haj pilgrimage to Mecca were prevented from leaving Gaza via Egypt on Saturday. The pilgrims said Hamas police set up checkpoints 300 meters from the Rafah border post with Egypt and turned them away. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said Egypt opened the crossing point for the pilgrims on Saturday but none came. Saudi Arabia says it has granted visas only to Palestinians who registered for the haj through the West Bank-based PA, and some 3,000 people in Gaza have done so. A further 3,000 Gazans have tried to arrange visas through Hamas. Hamas leaders have said that unless Saudi Arabia gives them visas, they will prevent anyone leaving Gaza for Mecca.

2008-12-01 01:00:00

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