First: Muslims to Fly From Israel to Saudi Arabia for Hajj
In a possible sign of improved relations between Israel and the Saudi Kingdom, some 766 Israeli Muslim Arabs will soon be able to make the sacred Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia by air from Israel – instead of by bus, Israel’s The Marker business news site said Sunday.
The 24-hour overland trek will be slashed to a 20-minute hop from Ben-Gurion Airport to Amman, Jordan, and then a change of planes on to Jeddah, according to local sources.
Formerly, pilgrims had to make the religious visit via the Allenby Crossing with the Hashemite Kingdom, including getting a temporary passport to travel on to Mecca, and then return.
“We have contacted the Israeli and Jordanian civil aviation authorities and obtained all the needed permission to organize flights for hajj pilgrims,” Ibrahim Milad, CEO of Ramla-based Milad Aviation told the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency.
The charter flights will use aircraft from Royal Jordanian Airlines and its subsidiary Royal Wings, according to i24 News.
“The contacts with the Jordanian and Israeli authorities lasted for about three years, in order to organize the trips for believers from Israel to Saudi Arabia for the first time,” Milad said. “During that period, I visited Jordan about 100 times to obtain all the necessary approvals.”
The first batch of pilgrims is set to fly between Sept. 23rd and 26th, and the flight will cost about $600, according to Palestinian sources.