( Reuters ) - Israel has protested to Egypt over the opening of a border crossing to allow Muslim pilgrims from the Gaza Strip to travel to Mecca.
An Israeli foreign ministry spokeswoman said on Thursday Israel had "conveyed its displeasure and concern to Egypt" at Monday's opening of the Rafah border crossing, closed for most of the time since Hamas seized control of Gaza in June.
Some 150 chanting pilgrims were allowed to cross from the Gaza Strip into Egypt in a partial easing of Gaza's isolation.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called the opening of Rafah "a confident step toward breaking the siege imposed on our people".
A Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, called for the crossing to be permanently reopened.
Islamist Hamas rejects coexistence with the Jewish state. Israel has tightened border restrictions on the Gaza Strip since Hamas's takeover and, with its Western allies, has been trying to isolate the movement.
Israel and its allies shun Hamas on the grounds that it refuses to renounce violence. The result has been the near-total closure of the borders of Gaza and the isolation of the coastal area's 1.5 million people.