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Palestinians freed in deal with Israel go to hajj

November 4, 2011

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip—Gaza's Hamas rulers say 300 Palestinian prisoners freed in a recent swap for a captured Israeli soldier will take part in Islam's annual hajj pilgrimage.

Hamas border official Maher Abu Sabha says Saudi Arabia offered to fly them to the pilgrimage. He says they will cross from Gaza into Egypt late Friday to catch the flights.

Israel freed hundreds of Palestinians last month in the first stage of a swap for one Israeli soldier held by Gaza militants for more than five years. Many of those released were jailed for attacks that killed hundreds of civilians.

Millions of Muslims are expected to participate in the pilgrimage that focuses on Mecca, Islam's holiest site and the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad.

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