Some 500 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip travelled to pray at a Jerusalem mosque, marking the first occasion since 2007 that Israel allowed such visits from the Hamas-controlled Palestinian enclave.
The holiday permits were issued to about 1,500 Gazans, aged 60 and over, a spokesperson for the Israeli army said in a statement. They were allowed to leave Gaza for a one-day pilgrimage travel to the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam.
The spokesperson said the rest of the people are set to arrive at Jerusalem in the next two days, Xinhua reported.
The official added that the permits were granted as part of a “package of concessions” that Israel made in the wake a three-day Muslim holiday called Eid al-Adha, or “Feast of the Sacrifice”, and the end of a seven-week-long war in Gaza.
Begun Saturday, this feast is one of the most important occasions on the Muslim calendar.
Israel has imposed a blockade over the Gaza Strip since the Islamist movement Hamas took over the control of Gaza in 2007.
Since then, Israel has employed a restricted permits policy, allowing people to leave the Strip only in rare humanitarian cases. Some permits have been granted also to Christians who wished to go to Bethlehem on Christmas but never before Israel had granted specific permits for Muslims who want to travel to a mosque.