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Palestinians in Gaza resume Umrah pilgrimage after 2-year hiatus

MECCA, SAUDI ARABIA - JANUARY 17: Muslim pilgrims pray at the holy Kaaba at Mecca's Grand Mosque during the annual hajj rituals January 17, 2005 in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Officials say over 1.6 million worshippers have come from abroad for this year's haj, a once-in-a-lifetime duty for every able-bodied Muslim. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)
Muslim pilgrims pray at the holy Kaaba at Mecca's Grand Mosque during the annual hajj rituals January 17, 2005 in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Officials say over 1.6 million worshippers have come from abroad for this year's haj, a once-in-a-lifetime duty for every able-bodied Muslim. [Abid Katib/Getty Images]

Palestinian pilgrims in Gaza, on Monday, departed for Saudi Arabia for Muslim Umrah pilgrimage for the first time in two years, Anadolu News Agency reports.

In a statement, the Hamas-run Interior Ministry said the first group of pilgrims left Gaza for Saudi Arabia through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

Chairman of the Association of Hajj and Umrah Companies in Gaza, Awad Abu Madkour, said the first batch of pilgrims was made up of 298 people.

Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages were suspended in 2020 due to the spread of coronavirus.

In recent days, a delegation representing Hajj and Umrah agencies in Gaza agreed with the Egyptian authorities to re-open the Cairo International Airport for pilgrims from Gaza.

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