Former Palestinian prisoners join Haj

Palestinian prisoners recently released as part of a deal with Israel travel to Mecca for Haj with the help of Saudi Arabia.

By REUTERS
November 8, 2011 23:46
Pilgrims flock to Mecca to perform annual haj

Haj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia (R) 311. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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From Israeli prison cells to a religious pilgrimage - hundreds of recently freed Palestinians travel to Saudi Arabia for Haj.

The former inmates were among 477 Palestinians released last month in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit.

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Many, like Nassr Al Namla who spent 21 years in jail, were overjoyed.

"We are still in a dream and we don't understand -- we can't grasp if it's a reality or a dream. It's just beyond our imagination -- just beyond our imagination. To go from prison to Gaza and from prison cells to Mecca, Saudi Arabia -- this is something no mind could fathom. "

"It is a very nice feeling because I had not seen my wife and children until we just met at Mount Arafat nearly two weeks after my release from prison.

The men said Saudi Arabia flew them to the country where they joined an estimated 3 million Muslims in Mecca.

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