A group of Israeli Arabs left on Wednesday (25 October) on a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
TV & SV Allenby Bridge: Pilgrims boarding buses for journey to Mecca, changing buses, luggage transferred. (4 SHOTS)
SCU Pilgrim (at left) talking with Israeli Adviser on Arab Affairs, Dr. Moshe Sharon.
CU Dr. Sharon speaking in English, as loading of buses continues. (3 SHOTS)
SV PAN Bus crosses Allenby Bridge.
CU Qadi of Jaffo, Farid Wajdi Tabri, speaking in English as bus loading continues. (3 SHOTS)
SV Two more buses cross Allenty Bridge.
SHARON:"For the last thirty years, the government of Israel was trying to get permission from the Arab countries, and especially from Saudi Arabia, for the Arabs of Israel to go to the Hajj at Mecca. Only this year, it was possible with the help of Senator Stone from the United States to get the permission. But what the Jordanians and the Saudis, for the Arabs of Israel, the citizens of Israel, must (INDISTINCT) is to go today, to start pilgrimage to the holy cities in the (INDISTINCT)."
QADI OF JAFFO:"That has been a very kind gesture of the Jordanian government, which we highly appreciate. Also, I would like to thank the Israeli authorities, who have been working very hard for the last thirty years to make this day possible. I do hope they will remember to pray there for peace."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: A group of Israeli Arabs left on Wednesday (25 October) on a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. They were the first Moslems from Israel to go in large numbers to Islam's holiest city since 1948.
SYNOPSIS: The first pilgrims gathered at dawn at the Allenby Bridge, which links the West Bank with Jordan. They transferred, with their luggage, from Israeli to Iranian buses for the next leg of their journey. For thirty years, Israeli Arabs were barred from entering Jordan on their way to Mecca because they had become citizens of the Jewish state after Israel's war of independence. Now, three thousand pilgrims are expected to go. A pilgrim, on the left, speaks with the Israeli Adviser on Arab Affairs, Dr. Moshe Sharon.
For the pilgrims, the symbolism of crossing the Allenby Bridge into Jordan was profound. One who expressed his gratitude for those able to make the sacred journey was the Qadi of Jaffo, Farid Wajdi Tabri.
These Israelis will join the hundreds of thousands heading to Mecca -- in planes, buses, ships, carts, and on foot -- from many lands for the one journey every Moslem hopes to make in his lifetime.