Forty Palestinians returning from a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia were stranded Monday at the Egyptian border with the Gaza Strip, which Israel closed more than a week ago, an Egyptian official said.
The 40 had arrived in Egypt at the Red Sea port of Nuweibah after carrying out the Omra, or small pilgrimage to Mecca, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, he said.
They then traveled to the crossing at Rafah, which was closed by Israel on December 31, one of several closures which it has imposed since a new Palestinian uprising erupted on September 28.
Contacts by different international organizations to allow their return to Gaza have not borne fruit, with Israel refusing to yield ground, the Egyptian official said on condition he not be named.
The Rafah terminal is manned by Palestinians with the Israeli army in charge of security, under the self-rule accords which have left the Jewish state in control of Palestinian borders -- RAFAH, Egypt (AFP)