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Last group of pilgrims returns to Gaza

July 18, 2013 9:27 P.M. (Updated: July 19, 2013 2:34 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The last group of pilgrims returned to the Gaza Strip from Saudi Arabia on Thursday, a ministry official in Gaza said.

Over 1,700 Palestinians had been stranded in Saudi Arabia after performing the Umrah pilgrimage, as Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah crossing and El-Arish airport.

The last batch of 561 people were finally able to return to Gaza on Thursday, said Adel Sawalha, an official in the Ministry of Endowment.

He added that the ministry had coordinated with the Palestinian embassy in Saudi Arabia and Saudi officials to provide assistance to the pilgrims while they were stranded.

The closure of the Rafah crossing from July 5-10 disrupted travel plans for some 10,000 people in Gaza, Israeli rights group Gisha said.

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