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1600 Palestinian pilgrims leave on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia

April 1, 2015 3:27 P.M. (Updated: April 2, 2015 12:44 P.M.)
JERICHO (Ma'an) -- 1,600 Muslim pilgrims from across Palestine headed to Saudi Arabia to perform the Umrah pilgrimage Wednesday morning.

The general administration of borders and crossings said in a statement that the movement of pilgrims and passengers had been facilitated via the Allenby crossing.

They expected that a total of more than 2,500 pilgrims and passengers would leave the crossing to the Jordanian side on Wednesday.

Muslims are expected to attempt to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetimes during the Hajj period of the year, and many opt to undertake additional pilgrimages -- known as Umrah -- as well. Umrah can be taken at any time of the year, unlike Hajj.

The Allenby Bridge, also known as the King Hussein Bridge, is the only link between the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the outside world.

Passengers have to go through three different checks in order to cross, including a Palestinian control, an Israeli control, and a Jordanian control.

The crossing is often extremely overcrowded during peak seasons of Umrah pilgrimage, as Israeli forces generally keep the border closed at night regardless of the number of people attempting to across.

In January, the crossing was beset by intense overcrowding as 10,000 people attempted to cross into Jordan en route to Saudi Arabia ahead of a snowstorm.

Those crossing are often forced to wait hours in small buses as they move between the Palestinian, Israeli, and Jordanian controls with little access to food, water, or toilets, in addition to time spent in security checks and Israeli interrogation procedures.
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