800 Palestinians allowed to exit Gaza to perform Umrah

800 Palestinians allowed to exit Gaza to perform Umrah
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Palestinians Muslim pilgrims sit in a bus at the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on March 3, 2019, before crossing to depart for Makkah to perform Umrah. (AFP)
800 Palestinians allowed to exit Gaza to perform Umrah
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A Palestinian Muslim pilgrim hugs a relative prior to boarding a bus at the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on March 3, 2019, before crossing to depart for Makkah to perform the ritual Umrah pilgrimage for the first time since 2014. (AFP)
800 Palestinians allowed to exit Gaza to perform Umrah
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Palestinians Muslim pilgrims are led to board a bus at the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on March 3, 2019, before crossing to depart for Makkah to perform the ritual Umrah pilgrimage for the first time since 2014. (AFP)
800 Palestinians allowed to exit Gaza to perform Umrah
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A Palestinian Muslim pilgrim waits for a bus en route to Rafah border between Gaza Strip and Egypt before leaving for Umrah, in Gaza City, Saturday, March 2, 2019. (AP)
Updated 03 March 2019

800 Palestinians allowed to exit Gaza to perform Umrah

800 Palestinians allowed to exit Gaza to perform Umrah
  • Umrah is the lesser pilgrimage to Makkah that can be completed throughout the year, as opposed to the annual Hajj pilgrimage
  • Security sources on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing confirmed it was the first such permission for umrah since the start of Egyptian military operations in northern Sinai in 2014

GAZA CITY: Some 800 Palestinians crossed Sunday from the Gaza Strip into Egypt on the initial stage of a minor pilgrimage to Makkah known as the “Umrah,” the first time since 2014 Egyptian authorities have granted visas for such a trip.
The pilgrims left at around dawn and were to be met by buses on the Egyptian side to bring them to Cairo’s airport, from where they would fly to Makkah in Saudi Arabia, said a Palestinian official at the Rafah crossing in the Gaza Strip.
Fifteen Gazans among the 800 were not authorized to cross, according to a Palestinian security official at Rafah, without providing the reasons.
Security sources on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing confirmed it was the first such permission for the Umrah pilgrimage since the start of Egyptian military operations in northern Sinai in 2014.
Umrah is the lesser pilgrimage to Makkah that can be completed throughout the year, as opposed to the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Around 2,500 pilgrims are authorized annually to leave Gaza via Egypt for the Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam that Muslims must undertake at least once in their lifetime.
Since the overthrow of Islamist president Muhammad Mursi in 2013, Egypt has faced an extremist insurgency in North Sinai.
Last year, Egypt’s military launched a major offensive against the militants, though Cairo has for years considered the entire area a security priority.
Gaza, run by Hamas, has been under an Israeli blockade for more than a decade. Gaza militants and Israel have fought three wars since 2008.
The Rafah crossing with Egypt is the only one out of Gaza not controlled by Israel. It had been largely closed in recent years, but was reopened some 10 months ago.
Around 300 travelers use it daily in either direction, according to figures dating to December provided by the Gisha NGO, which monitors the blockade on Gaza.


Oman to enact labor, taxation and subsidy reforms, says minister

Updated 9 min 7 sec ago

Oman to enact labor, taxation and subsidy reforms, says minister

Oman to enact labor, taxation and subsidy reforms, says minister

DUBAI: Oman plans to amend labor laws, introduce new taxation and end some “long-standing” subsidies while ensuring that low-income families are protected, the Gulf Arab state’s foreign minister said on Saturday.
Sayyed Badr Al Busaidi told the ISS Manama Dialogue summit in Bahrain that significant changes to labor policy would include abolishing a requirement that expatriate workers need permission to transfer to a new employer, which is known as the no-objection certificate system.