Israel temporarily denies entry to 200 Muslims returning from hajj
Pilgrims fall prey to dispute between border control, Interior Ministry over working hours; will spend night in Amman
Some 200 Muslim pilgrims returning from the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia were stranded Friday at the Allenby border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan.
Israel Radio said that the pilgrims were turned back due to a dispute over work hours between Israel’s Interior Ministry and its Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration (PIBA).
The radio channel said it was 250 pilgrims, not 200, who were refused passage at the border crossing. The crossing is the central departure and entry point for West Bank Palestinians.
According to Army Radio, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz tried to intervene in order to allow the pilgrims to cross but to no avail.
The pilgrims were told that they were denied passage as their arrival had come too close to the start of the Jewish Sabbath, when state officials do not work.
They were sent back to Amman, where they would spend the next 24 hours in a hotel paid for by an NGO, and would return to Israel on Saturday night. The NGO was not named in the report.
Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation Ayoub Kara became involved from Washington, where he was on an official visit, to help resolve the situation, Israel Radio said.