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Palestinian pilgrims returned to the Gaza Strip from Egypt in defiance of Israel’s demand to screen them for contraband.

At least 1,000 Gazans, having completed the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, returned to their coastal territory Wednesday through the Rafah crossing on the border with the Egyptian Sinai.

The returnees were among 2,200 Palestinians who had been stranded in Egypt for days as Cairo weighed Jerusalem’s demand that they come back through Israeli checkpoints, where any cash or arms smugglers would be weeded out.

Palestinian sources said they expected all 2,200 pilgrims to come through Rafah by day’s end.

Israeli media quoted unnamed Jerusalem officials as voicing outrage at the Egyptian decision.

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