MECCA/GAZA CITY: Three hundred Palestinians freed in a recent swap for a captured Israeli soldier are among more than 2.5 million Muslim pilgrims who began Friday the rites of the annual hajj pilgrimage, leaving the holy city of Mecca for Mount Arafat, where the Prophet Mohammad is believed to have delivered his final hajj sermon.
Hamas border official Maher Abu Sabha said Friday Saudi Arabia offered to fly the prisoners, released last month, to the pilgrimage. They were due to cross from Gaza into Egypt late Friday to catch the flights.
Dressed in white, pilgrims flooded the streets Friday as they headed toward Mina, around 55 kilometers east of the holy mosque.
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