Special mission to enable 4500 Palestinian pilgrims to go to Mecca


IDF Spokesman

(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman and Coordinator of Government Activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip)

On December 12, 2004, Palestinian gunmen carried out a terrorist attack at the Rafah crossing, in which a tunnel filled with explosives was exploded under the IDF post securing the Palestinians crossing from the Gaza Strip into Egyptian Rafah. The terrorist attack resulted in five IDF soldiers killed and five IDF soldiers injured. Following the attack, the Rafah crossing was taken out of use, and will remain closed until its rebuilding.

For the purpose of the Haj and in spite of the murderous terrorist attack, it was decided in the IDF and the District Coordination Office to make a special humanitarian effort to allow the freedom of religious ritual to the Muslim Palestinians who want to go make their pilgrimage to Mecca, while maintaining the security of the citizens of Israel.

Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip planning to go on their pilgrimage to Mecca, will arrive at the Erez crossing, in coordination with the liaison officers and the Palestinian liaison representatives. From the Erez crossing they will be taken by bus to the Kerem Shalom crossing near the Israeli-Egyptian border. The buses will continue their ride from the Kerem Shalom crossing along the Philadelphi road to the Egyptian side of the Rafah terminal, closely secured by IDF forces.