Second Palestinian pilgrim dies as Egypt blocks pilgrims
Second Palestinian pilgrim dies as Egypt blocks pilgrims
Tuesday, January 1,2008 01:37

Another elderly Palestinian female pilgrim has died Monday after Egyptian authorities refused to allow thousands of Palestinian pilgrims cross into the Gaza Strip.

The victim was identified as Khadra Mahmoud Sa"ad, 67, Palestinian medical sources confirmed, adding that another seven sick pilgrims were rushed to Areesh hospital after their health condition deteriorated.

The first victim was pilgrim Shafeeka Al-Buhaisi who died on a ferry carrying pilgrims from Aqaba in Jordan to cross to the Egyptian port of Nweibe" on their way back home in the Gaza Strip.

The sources also expressed deep concern over the health conditions of tens of sick Palestinian pilgrims who were stranded at the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing point, south of Gaza Strip.

In an apparent bid to shield itself of the persistent pressures practiced on her over the crises, the Egyptian authorities divided the stranded pilgrims into three groups based on unveiled criteria, but the pilgrims rejected the separation step.

Egypt wants the pilgrims to cross into occupied Palestine through the Israeli-controlled Karm Abu Salem crossing point. But the pilgrims insisted they want to go home through Rafah from where they traveled to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform pilgrimage, the fifth pillar of Islam.

For his part, the prominent Hamas political leader and PLC member Dr. Khalil Al-Hayya, who is also among the stranded pilgrims, asserted that a state of sorrow, anger, and disappointment was prevailing among the pilgrims over the Egyptian behavior.

"All the pilgrims, including the sick ones, are participating in the organized sit-in  in rejection of the Egyptian refusal to allow them back home through the Rafah crossing", affirmed Hayya, unveiling that the Egyptian government hadn’t positively reacted to the repeated calls of help sent by the pilgrims to end their ordeal.

"The pilgrims are receiving many promises [from the Egyptian authorities] but those promises immediately evaporate and they have no concrete signs on the ground to prove their trustworthiness ", Hayya underlined.

In this regard, the Palestinian Islamist leader called on the Palestinian people to stand up in defense of the pilgrims" right to return home through the Rafah crossing,  and to do their national duty towards the stranded pious pilgrims, urging Egypt to take stern and decisive measures to end the tragedy.