The first delegation of Palestinian pilgrims left Gaza on Tuesday, June 21.
Palestine Chronicle correspondent in the Strip Mahmoud Ajjour talked to some of the pilgrims as they were about to take the bus from Yarmouk Street in Gaza City to the Rafah Crossing.
“My name is Said Khader Al-Daour,” one of the pilgrims introduced himself to The Palestine Chronicle. “I can’t even tell you how happy I am to be finally allowed to go to Hajj after 11 years of waiting.”
Another pilgrim, Nizar Hashem Hijazi, has been trying to go to Hajj for 13 years. “Now that the wait is over, I am overwhelmed with joy,” he told us. “I thank God for this opportunity.”
Hisham Skaik waited for 12 years. “I have mixed emotions but I feel happy and content,” Skaik said. “I wish those who have been waiting for years to be granted this opportunity as well.”
The ‘Hajj’ is the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, required for all adult Muslims once in a lifetime.
Millions of Muslims converge in Saudi Arabia every year to perform the Hajj rituals. Palestinians, especially those in besieged Gaza often run into obstacles and delays as a result of Israeli restrictions.
(All Photos: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)