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Closing of Rafah Crossing leaves Palestinians in difficult situation

06 August 2012 17:52 (Last updated 06 August 2012 17:54)

Closing of Rafah Crossing is leaving Palestinians, who want to travel to Mecca for umrah pray, in difficult situations.

Egypt's Rafah crossing is closed indefinitely after an attack on the Egyptian-Israeli border post at the weekend and 16 soldiers had been killed during the attack.

Mahir Abu Soubha, who is in charge at the border gate on Gaza strip side, told Anadolu Agency that around 850 Palestinians had been expected to cross the border for umrah pray. 

"Because of delays at the border gate, Palestinians' visas for umrah are getting expired. Closing of the border gate by Egypt due to security reasons is not a surprise for Palestinians. We are expecting that the border gate will be re-open in a couple of days time," said Soubha.

The umrah is a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, performed by Muslims that can be undertaken at any time of the year. It is sometimes called the 'minor pilgrimage' or 'lesser pilgrimage', the Hajj being the 'major' pilgrimage and which is compulsory for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it. The umrah is not compulsory but highly recommended.