Egypt, Israel Keep Pilgrims Stranded at Sea

Israel may nab Hamas members on board; conditions worsening
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2007 12:50 PM CST
Egyptian riot policemen take position as Palestinians protest in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah asking Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing to pilgrims, 29 December 2007. More than 2,000 Palestinian...   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – More than 2,000 Palestinian pilgrims are stuck floating in the Red Sea today, barred from returning to Gaza through Egypt’s Rafah border crossing. Egypt demands that they reenter through an Israeli checkpoint, but Hamas fears that members on board will be arrested. Israel has claimed that the militants will try to smuggle funds into Gaza, the BBC reports.

Hamas officials continue to urge Egypt to ignore Israeli and US pressure. Meanwhile, the ships have stayed at sea for two days without medical supplies, and conditions are reportedly worsening. The pilgrims left through Egypt for last week's Hajj, with promises that they could return the same way. But after a meeting with Israeli authorities, Egypt denied them entry.