Gisha asks military to make arrangements to allow Muslim residents of the Gaza Strip to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj pilgrimage
Eid al-Adha will take place this year between September 23-26, 2015. Before and during the holiday, millions of Muslims from all over the world gather in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to perform the Hajj pilgrimage.
In order to make it possible for Muslim residents of Gaza to participate in the pilgrimage, and in view of the fact that the Rafah border crossing has been completely closed for a lengthy period of time and there is no expectation it will be reopened in the foreseeable future, Gisha wrote to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Maj. Gen. Yoav (Poli) Mordechai, on August 10, 2015, asking him to make arrangements so that Muslim residents of the Gaza Strip may go to Saudi Arabia via Israel and the Allenby Bridge (Hebrew).
The letter states that arrangements for the departure of Gaza Strip residents via the Erez border crossing into Israel and from there to the Allenby Bridge border crossing and Jordan can be similar to those allowing Muslim worshippers from the Gaza Strip to enter Israel to pray at the al-Aqsa mosque on Fridays – that is, organized shuttle buses which would travel from the Erez border crossing directly to Allenby, at prearranged, scheduled times. Because the Hajj begins two weeks before Eid al-Adha and continues throughout the holiday, and given the large number of worshippers who will arrive to Saudi Arabia from all parts of the world, Gisha asked COGAT to approve and coordinate the departure of Gaza residents from the beginning of September.
Allowing Muslim residents of the Gaza Strip to travel to Saudi Arabia via Israel to perform the Hajj pilgrimage will enable them to realize their right to freedom of movement and freedom of religion and will conform with Israel’s obligations under international and Israeli law.