Hamas says Egypt has opened its border crossing with the Gaza Strip for three days, allowing hundreds of Muslim faithful to travel for a yearly pilgrimage.

Hesham Edwan, the director of the Rafah crossing, said Tuesday that nearly 2,500 people were expected to leave in the coming days.

Rafah is Gaza's main gateway to the outside world. Egypt has kept Rafah largely sealed since 2013, when ties with Hamas worsened after the ouster of Egypt's elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Cairo accuses the Islamic militant group, which rules Gaza, of supporting militants in the Sinai Peninsula, allegations denied by Hamas.

The pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia is one of the five pillars of Islam and is made by around 3 million Muslims worldwide each year.