Egypt opens Rafah crossing to allow Gaza pilgrims to travel to Saudi

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-14 23:46:53|Editor: yan
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RAMALLAH, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- Egypt on Monday opened the Rafah border crossing to allow Gaza Strip's pilgrims to leave the blockaded coastal enclave to travel to Saudi Arabia, local media reported.

The first group of about 800 pilgrims crossed the Rafah crossing on Monday to go to the Cairo International Airport, from where they will fly to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

A total of 2,508 Muslim pilgrims from the Gaza Strip will travel to Saudi to attend the Hajj, an annual pilgrimage for Muslims from across the world, the report said.

Gaza has been under blockade by Israel and Egypt since 2007 after the Hamas movement took over the enclave from the rule by the Palestinian National Authority.

Egypt opens Rafah crossing and the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing with Israel, only when need arises for humanitarian reasons, the report said.

Meanwhile, EgyptAir announced Monday that it will start transporting Palestinian pilgrims to Saudi Arabia as of Tuesday via three flights that will take off from the Cairo International Airport to Jeddah, the Egyptian official news agency MENA reported.

The Egyptian national carrier said in a statement that it will fly 21 flights, including 11 flights to Jeddah and 10 lights to al Madina al Monawara, to transport about 4,530 Hajj pilgrims.