Egypt Sends Stranded Pilgrims to Al-Arish Near Gaza Borders
Egyptian authorities started to move Gaza Strip pilgrims to the city of Al-Arish near the borders with the strip after allowing the ferry carrying them to make them disembark in the Egyptian port of Noweiba , Aljazeera correspondent in Egypt reported.
According to the correspondent, 12 buses carrying the pilgrims moved from Noweiba to Al-Arish where Egyptian authorities prepared shelters for them. It is still unclear whether the pilgrims will enter the Strip from Rafah Crossing from which they left the Strip or from Israeli controlled Karam Abu Salem crossing.
This development comes as Israel insisted in the words of Defense Minister Ehud Barak on making Palestinian pilgrims- up to 2250- undergo a security checkup and oblige them to cross from Karam Abu Salem crossing, Israel Radio reported today.
Spokesman of the ousted Palestinian government in Gaza said that the crisis of the stranded Palestinian pilgrims is being solved, pointing out that all Arab sides are concerned with finding a quick and urgent solution for the crisis.
Taher Al Nuno pointed out in a press conference held in Gaza City that ” Measures will be taken in the coming hours to move ill and aged pilgrims to inside Egyptian territories”, pointing out that this is a first step towards not keeping the pilgrims in the open sea specially as they started to run out of water and medicine.
And he explained that the dismissed government held persistent communications with Egypt , the United Nations and the International Red Cross, and carries out urgent moves to securing the return of Gaza Strip hajjis with safety and peace through Rafah Border Crossing .
And Al Nuno confirmed that Karam Abu Salem”s crossing is rejected generally from the side of hajjis and government and the Palestinian peoples, saying ” from Al Haggag”s right the return by the way that got out of, then any other place puts them under the danger of occupation and its aggression by any means from a blackmail and a detention ” a rejected .
Earlier the spokesman for the movement of Hamas Sami Abu Zuhri said that the pilgrims refused Cairo”s demands of accepting to return through Karam Abu Salem crossing “to avoid facing Israeli security harassments. Many Palestinians were previously detained and harassed when they crossed through Israeli-controlled crossings” .
And Al Haggag reported that most of them are from relatives and the families of the martyrs and that they are required to the Israeli authorities .
From its side it promised the dismissed Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haneya Al Haggag working for their return soon through Rafah Crossing . And Haneya”s office said that it holds intensive communications with the Egyptian command other Arab and international destinations for securing the hajjis return .
And hamas said their age woman 62 years she was dead after their disease aboard the ship by which the ways was cut to the second day .
Thousands of persons rallied on the Palestinian side of Rafah Crossing yesterday including relatives of the pilgrims demanding Egyptian authorities allow the pilgrims to cross. And the crowds repeated cries against the Israeli occupation authorities, warnings which named it the submission to their demands .
Egyptian authorities allowed the pilgrims early December 2007 to pass from Rafah Crossing to perform pilgrimage. Israel protested at that time against allowing them to cross but the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Aboul Gheit confirmed that Egypt ” isn”t concerned” with Israeli protests.
It is worth mentioning that Rafah Crossing between Egypt and Gaza has been closed since the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas controlled it in mid June 2007.