Helping Gazans fulfil Hajj dream

Helping Gazans fulfil Hajj dream
Palestinian Muslim pilgrims arrive at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip, on August 14, 2017, ahead of their departure to the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Makkah. (AFP)
Updated 03 August 2019

Helping Gazans fulfil Hajj dream

Helping Gazans fulfil Hajj dream
  • A special tent city has been set up to accommodate all pilgrims during their stay in Saudi Arabia

JERUSALEM: Omar Mohammad Raboun has been trying to perform the Hajj pilgrimage for 10 years.
This year his name and that of his wife, Amira, popped up when the Palestinian Ministry of Islamic Waqf chose them in the lottery for Gazans to participate. 
Omar, 69, is a retired employee of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and told Arab News that he could not wait to visit the Kaaba and tour Madinah. “I have been waiting a long time for this opportunity to carry out the fifth duty of all Muslim believers,” he said.
While the pilgrimage has been known for centuries as a source of hardship, this year’s delegation expect to have things made easier as a result of an agreement reached with Palestine Airways to fly the pilgrims from Cairo International Airport directly to Madinah. Omar has never flown before, but said: “I am a believer and I know that our lives are in God’s hands.”
Amira, mother of four boys and five girls, is not as keen. “I have never flown also but to be honest I am a bit afraid,” she said. 

HIGHLIGHTS

• While the pilgrimage has been known for centuries as a source of hardship, this year’s delegation expect to have things made easier as a result of an agreement reached with Palestine Airways to fly the pilgrims from Cairo International Airport directly to Madinah.

• Palestine Airways has rented modern planes from EgyptAir to help transport the pilgrims back and forth to the holy places in Saudi Arabia.  

Both Omar and Amira collected their tickets and vouchers at the Hanief Travel Agency, which organizes the Hajj trips. Mohammad Abdel Bari, the owner of the agency, told Arab News that this year’s pilgrims will have an easier time getting to Makkah and Madinah. “We have coordinated with the Egyptian and Saudi authorities and we have been promised that the travelers will be checked only at the first check point and then will be able to whiz through all other checkpoints in Sinai until they get to Cairo International Airport.”
Ramadan Barghouti, a senior official at Palestine Airways, told Arab News the Palestinian company has rented modern planes from EgyptAir to help transport the pilgrims back and forth to the holy places in Saudi Arabia. 
“We have secured excellent deals with EgyptAir and we are able to offer the pilgrims land and air transport, as well as accommodation, for $3,942 per person,” said Barghouti, adding that Gazan would depart on July 25 and be back in Gaza just after Eid Al-Adha, around the week of Aug. 18.
Assem Salem, the Palestinian minister of transport, has stated that 3,000 Gazans will travel on the annual Hajj pilgrimage this year exclusively with Palestine Airways in coordination with EgyptAir.
A special tent city has been set up to accommodate all pilgrims during their stay in the Kingdom.


Top Iran leader posts Trump-like golfer image, vows revenge

This image posted by Ayatollah Khamanei on Twitter shows a figure of former US President Donald Trump playing golf. (Twitter photo)
This image posted by Ayatollah Khamanei on Twitter shows a figure of former US President Donald Trump playing golf. (Twitter photo)
Updated 21 min 29 sec ago

Top Iran leader posts Trump-like golfer image, vows revenge

This image posted by Ayatollah Khamanei on Twitter shows a figure of former US President Donald Trump playing golf. (Twitter photo)
  • Twitter has yet to act on the Persian-language tweet by Khamenei, Iran’s highest authority
  • Earlier this month, Twitter removed a tweet by Khamenei saying US and UK-made vaccines were unreliable

DUBAI: The Twitter account of Iran’s Supreme Leader on Friday carried the image of a golfer resembling former President Donald Trump apparently being targeted by a drone, vowing revenge over the killing of a top Iranian general in a US drone attack.
The post carried the text of remarks by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in December, in which he said “Revenge is certain,” renewing a vow of vengeance ahead of the first anniversary of the killing of top military commander General Qassem Soleimani in the attack in Iraq.
“Those who ordered the murder of General Soleimani as well as those who carried this out should be punished. This revenge will certainly happen at the right time,” Khamenei tweeted on December 16, without naming Trump, who had ordered the strike.

Earlier this month, Twitter removed a tweet by Khamenei in which he said US and British-made vaccines were unreliable and may be intended to “contaminate other nations.” The platform said the tweet violated its rules against misinformation.
There was no apparent immediate action by Twitter over the Persian-language tweet on Friday by Khamenei, Iran’s highest authority.
Tensions rapidly grew between Tehran and Washington since 2018, when Trump exited a 2015 deal between Iran and six world powers that sought to curb Tehran’s nuclear program. Washington reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.
Iran called for action and “not just words” shortly after Joe Biden was sworn in as US president on Wednesday. Biden has said Washington will rejoin the nuclear deal if Iran resumes strict compliance.