RELIGION

Egypt opens Gaza border crossing for Muslim pilgrimage

  • A Palestinian says goodbye to a relative before leaving to the holy city of Mecca, for the annual hajj pilgrimage,  in Gaza City, early Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016. Hundreds of Palestinian pilgrims are leaving Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on their way to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for hajj. Egypt has agreed to keep the crossing open for three days to allow thousands of people to cross. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

    A Palestinian says goodbye to a relative before leaving to the holy city of Mecca, for the annual hajj pilgrimage, in Gaza City, early Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016. Hundreds of Palestinian pilgrims are leaving Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on their way to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for hajj. Egypt has agreed to keep the crossing open for three days to allow thousands of people to cross. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)  (The Associated Press)

  • Muslim Palestinian pilgrims waits for a bus en route to the Rafah border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt before leaving for the annual hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, in Gaza City, early Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016. Hundreds of Palestinian pilgrims are leaving Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on their way to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for hajj. Egypt has agreed to keep the crossing open for three days to allow thousands of people to cross. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

    Muslim Palestinian pilgrims waits for a bus en route to the Rafah border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt before leaving for the annual hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, in Gaza City, early Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016. Hundreds of Palestinian pilgrims are leaving Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on their way to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for hajj. Egypt has agreed to keep the crossing open for three days to allow thousands of people to cross. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)  (The Associated Press)

  • Palestinians Muslim pilgrims wait for a bus en route to Rafah border between Gaza Strip and Egypt before leaving for the annual hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, in Gaza City, early Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016. Hundreds of Palestinian pilgrims are leaving Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on their way to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for hajj. Egypt has agreed to keep the crossing open for three days to allow thousands of people to cross, heading to the Cairo International Airport. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

    Palestinians Muslim pilgrims wait for a bus en route to Rafah border between Gaza Strip and Egypt before leaving for the annual hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, in Gaza City, early Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016. Hundreds of Palestinian pilgrims are leaving Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on their way to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for hajj. Egypt has agreed to keep the crossing open for three days to allow thousands of people to cross, heading to the Cairo International Airport. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)  (The Associated Press)

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.