GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Witnesses say Hamas police have prevented Muslim pilgrims from leaving the Gaza Strip for Saudi Arabia.
The Islamic militant Hamas group that rules Gaza is miffed that the pilgrims coordinated their journey with the Palestinian Authority. The authority is run by Hamas’ bitter rival, the Fatah movement.
The pilgrims had intended to cross into Egypt on Saturday and to travel from there to Saudi Arabia for the holy Muslim pilgrimage. But Hamas police set up checkpoints leading to an Egyptian border crossing. Witnesses said they sent back cars that appeared to carry pilgrims.
Hamas official Abdullah Abu Jarbou says pilgrims must coordinate with the militant group.
The crackdown highlights the depth of the bitterness between the two groups. Hamas seized control of Gaza from Fatah-allied forces last year.