First batch of Palestinian pilgrims head to Mecca

JERICHO, The first batch of Palestinian pilgrims left the West Bank on Monday heading to Mecca for the annual Haj, according to the Palestinian border police.

At least 1800 pilgrims are expected to leave on Monday via Al-Karameh/King Hussein/Allenby crossing to Jordan where they will be taken in buses to Mecca.

Police said 40 busloads of pilgrims from all over the West Bank arrived in Jericho on their way to Amman and then to Mecca.

The second batch is expected to leave on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, along with other Palestinian officials. was at the departing hall in Jericho at the time of the arrival of the pilgrims to Pilgrims City, which was inaugurated by Hamdallah.

The prime minister said the City was planned to facilitate travel of pilgrims to and from the occupied Palestinian territories.

He said phase one of Pilgrims City was completed at a cost of $1.2 million and includes departure and arrival halls, improved infrastructure, new quarters for overnight stay and a customs section.

Hamdallah said the crossing should be open 24 hours a day, throughout the year and not only during the summer months, expressing hope that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian land started 50 years ago will end so that we will have full control over all the crossings.

Israel controls all the border crossings for the West Bank and therefore pilgrims and other Palestinians leaving or returning through Al-Karameh crossing with Jordan have to leave and return through Israeli army-controlled terminals.

Source: Palestinian News & Info Agency