Egypt opens Gaza border crossing for Palestinian pilgrimage

CAIRO, Aug. 30 (UPI) — Egypt on Tuesday reopened the Rafah border crossing between its North Sinai province and the Gaza Strip to allow Muslims to pass to Mecca for a yearly pilgrimage.

The crossing will remain open until Thursday for at least 2,000 pilgrims for this year’s hajj pilgrimage to the holy city, the Anadolu Agency reported. It’s the first time since July the border has been open.

The Palestinian Embassy will provide buses from the Gaza Strip to Cairo Airport, where pilgrims can fly to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, according to Petra news agency of Jordan.

The crossing is the only one controlled by Egypt out of the coastal area, which has been under Israeli blockade since 2007. Six other crossings are controlled by Israel.

In 2013, Egypt has usually sealed the crossing since the military coup of Egypt’s elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi worsened ties with Hamas.

Each year, about 2 million Muslims complete the hajj pilgrimage, which is considered one of the five pillars of Islam.

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