Egypt opens Gaza border crossing for Muslim pilgrimage

Palestinian Muslim pilgrims arrive at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip, on August 30, 2016 ahead of their departure to the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca. (AFP)

Hamas says Egypt has opened its border crossing with the Gaza Strip for three days, allowing hundreds of Muslim faithful to travel for a yearly pilgrimage.

Hesham Edwan, the director of the Rafah crossing, said Tuesday that nearly 2,500 people were expected to leave in the coming days.

Rafah is Gaza’s main gateway to the outside world. Egypt has kept Rafah largely sealed since 2013, when ties with Hamas worsened after the ouster of Egypt’s elected Islamist President Mohammed Mursi.

Cairo accuses the Islamic militant group, which rules Gaza, of supporting militants in the Sinai Peninsula, allegations denied by Hamas.

The pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia is one of the five pillars of Islam and is made by around 3 million Muslims worldwide each year.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 13:59 - GMT 10:59