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First group of pilgrims leave Gaza for Makkah

The first group of pilgrims left the Gaza Strip yesterday through the Rafah Crossing heading to Saudi Arabia.

Pilgrims will leave the Strip over a period of two days, with approximately three batches of 736 pilgrims heading out together to board planes at Cairo airport. A further two batches of 596 pilgrims will head out today.

Earlier, the Saudi authorities announced an increase in the number of people allowed to perform the Hajj this year, after two years of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The pilgrimage to Islam's holiest site, the Kaaba in the city of Makkah, is one of the five pillars of Islam.

A Muslim is required to perform the Hajj at least once, if they have the means.

Saudi Arabia has limited the Hajj to domestic pilgrims for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 60,000 pilgrims performed the Hajj last year, compared to around 2.5 million in the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

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