- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Palestinian Authority condemned the Hamas government of the Gaza Strip for refusing to allow 86 Palestinians to visit Saudi Arabia to undertake the Hajj pilgrimage, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported.

Hamas officials reportedly harassed and confiscated the passports of 86 pilgrims at the Rafah crossing into Egypt, the report said. The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli military blockade since 2007, and the Rafah crossing into Egypt is one of the few ways in and out for many Palestinians there.

Muslims consider the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime to be a right of passage in their religion, Ma’an News Agency reported.

Palestinian Authority Minister of Endowment and Religious Affairs Mahmoud Habbash called Hamas‘ actions “oppressive.”

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