Helping Gazans fulfil Hajj dream

Palestinian Muslim pilgrims arrive at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip, on August 14, 2017, ahead of their departure to the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Makkah. (AFP)
Updated 03 August 2019

Helping Gazans fulfil Hajj dream

  • A special tent city has been set up to accommodate all pilgrims during their stay in Saudi Arabia

JERUSALEM: Omar Mohammad Raboun has been trying to perform the Hajj pilgrimage for 10 years.
This year his name and that of his wife, Amira, popped up when the Palestinian Ministry of Islamic Waqf chose them in the lottery for Gazans to participate. 
Omar, 69, is a retired employee of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and told Arab News that he could not wait to visit the Kaaba and tour Madinah. “I have been waiting a long time for this opportunity to carry out the fifth duty of all Muslim believers,” he said.
While the pilgrimage has been known for centuries as a source of hardship, this year’s delegation expect to have things made easier as a result of an agreement reached with Palestine Airways to fly the pilgrims from Cairo International Airport directly to Madinah. Omar has never flown before, but said: “I am a believer and I know that our lives are in God’s hands.”
Amira, mother of four boys and five girls, is not as keen. “I have never flown also but to be honest I am a bit afraid,” she said. 

HIGHLIGHTS

• While the pilgrimage has been known for centuries as a source of hardship, this year’s delegation expect to have things made easier as a result of an agreement reached with Palestine Airways to fly the pilgrims from Cairo International Airport directly to Madinah.

• Palestine Airways has rented modern planes from EgyptAir to help transport the pilgrims back and forth to the holy places in Saudi Arabia.  

Both Omar and Amira collected their tickets and vouchers at the Hanief Travel Agency, which organizes the Hajj trips. Mohammad Abdel Bari, the owner of the agency, told Arab News that this year’s pilgrims will have an easier time getting to Makkah and Madinah. “We have coordinated with the Egyptian and Saudi authorities and we have been promised that the travelers will be checked only at the first check point and then will be able to whiz through all other checkpoints in Sinai until they get to Cairo International Airport.”
Ramadan Barghouti, a senior official at Palestine Airways, told Arab News the Palestinian company has rented modern planes from EgyptAir to help transport the pilgrims back and forth to the holy places in Saudi Arabia. 
“We have secured excellent deals with EgyptAir and we are able to offer the pilgrims land and air transport, as well as accommodation, for $3,942 per person,” said Barghouti, adding that Gazan would depart on July 25 and be back in Gaza just after Eid Al-Adha, around the week of Aug. 18.
Assem Salem, the Palestinian minister of transport, has stated that 3,000 Gazans will travel on the annual Hajj pilgrimage this year exclusively with Palestine Airways in coordination with EgyptAir.
A special tent city has been set up to accommodate all pilgrims during their stay in the Kingdom.


Palestinians: Israeli settlers torch cars in West Bank

Updated 22 November 2019

Palestinians: Israeli settlers torch cars in West Bank

  • Hard-line settlers have been known to carry out “price tag” attacks in response to Palestinian militant attacks or perceived efforts by Israeli authorities to limit settlement expansion
  • The Palestinians claim the West Bank as part of their future state

RAMALLAH, West Bank: Israeli settlers attacked five villages in the occupied West Bank overnight, torching vehicles and olive trees, and leaving graffiti on the walls of homes, Palestinian officials said Friday.
Ghassan Daghlas, a spokesman for the Nablus governorate, said the Jewish settlers set fire to five cars and spray-painted graffiti on more than 20 others. Villagers circulated photos of the damage on social media.
Israeli police say they are investigating the reports and that police and military units will visit the area.
Hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers live in the West Bank, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Mideast War. The Palestinians claim the West Bank as part of their future state.
Hard-line settlers have been known to carry out “price tag” attacks in response to Palestinian militant attacks or perceived efforts by Israeli authorities to limit settlement expansion. It was unclear what sparked the latest attack.
In the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, Palestinian health authorities said a man died of wounds he sustained in an Israeli airstrike earlier this month that killed eight members of his family. The Gaza Health Ministry identified the man as 40-year-old Mohammed Abu Malhous.
Those killed in the airstrike included two women and five children under the age of 13.
Israel’s military said it was targeting “Islamic Jihad military infrastructure” and did not expect civilians to be present. It said an investigation is underway.
The airstrike came during two days of fighting ignited by Israel’s targeted killing of a commander of the Islamic Jihad militant group. The fighting killed 35 Palestinians and more than 450 rockets were fired into Israel.