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Egypt delays Hajj pilgrims from returning to Gaza

Oct. 24, 2013 10:44 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 24, 2013 9:30 P.M.)
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma’an) -- Egyptian authorities on Wednesday ordered 19 buses carrying pilgrims back to Gaza to return to el-Arish due to the security situation in Sinai, an official said.

Director of the Egyptian side of Rafah crossing Sami Mitwalli told Ma'an that Egyptian authorities prevented the buses from traveling to Rafah due to a security curfew in the Sinai peninsula.

The 774 pilgrims will be able to cross into Gaza on Thursday, Mitwalli added.

After a July coup deposing president Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's army has repeatedly closed the border crossing and destroyed hundreds of tunnels that Gazans used for years.

The Rafah crossing has been the principal connection between Gaza's 1.8 million residents and the outside world since the imposition of an economic blockade by Israel beginning in 2007.

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