‘Violation of Religious Freedom’ – Thousands of Ganzans Unable to Perform Hajj

A delegation of Palestinian pilgrims left Gaza for Hajj in 2023. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The closure of the Rafah crossing and the ongoing genocide have stopped 2,500 Gaza pilgrims, including accompanying missions, from traveling to perform Hajj.

At least 2,500 Palestinians were prevented from performing the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage this year, due to the ongoing war in Gaza and the Israeli occupation of the Rafah crossing, the Anadolu news agency reported.

Speaking to Anadoly, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Endowments in the Gaza Strip, Ikrami al-Mudallal, said that this is “a clear violation of religious freedom”.

Al-Mudallal said that “the closure of the Rafah crossing and the ongoing war have stopped 2,500 Gaza pilgrims, including accompanying missions, from traveling to perform Hajj.”

“This group represents 38 percent of the total 6,600 Palestinian pilgrims,” he noted.

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Al-Mudallal stated that the ministry is in contact with relevant authorities in Saudi Arabia and Egypt to address what they describe as a “blatant infringement” of Palestinian pilgrims’ rights and to find ways for them to travel for Hajj.

In March 2023, the Ministry of Endowments in the Gaza Strip conducted a lottery to select pilgrims for 2023 and 2024 due to limited slots and the ongoing Israeli blockade, prioritizing the elderly and sick.

Last May, the ministry warned that occupation of the Rafah crossing, and its closure since May 7 had prevented the completion of this year’s Hajj season for Gaza pilgrims. 

They called this “a clear violation of religious freedom and international humanitarian law.”

The ministry urged Egypt and Saudi Arabia to pressure all parties, primarily the Israeli occupation, to enable Gaza residents to perform the Hajj this year.

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Ongoing Genocide

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7.  

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 37,296 Palestinians have been killed, and 85,197 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip. 

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly children. 

War-Torn Gaza – Civilian Casualties Mount amid Ongoing Genocide

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’.

(PC, Anadolu)

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