Itongadol.- Some Palestinian-Christians will be able to temporarily visit family outside of Gaza and the West Bank this holiday season, an IDF Spokesperson\’s Unit statement said Thursday.
IDF grants entry permits for Christians in Gaza, West Bank in honor of Christmas
As part of the easing of restrictions in light of Christmas, up to 200 Palestinian-Christians living in Gaza and the West Bank will be allowed to travel abroad by way of Ben Gurion Airport during the upcoming Christmas holiday.
The IDF Spokesperson\’s Unit announced that in a decision agreed upon by Defense Minister Moshe Ya\’alon and outgoing Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, the IDF will carry out "confidence-building measures" with the Christian-Palestinian population of Gaza and the West Bank in light of the holiday season.
Along with additional IDF forces and police presence to ensure "smooth and fast" entry into Bethlehem for visitors during Christmas, temporary
permission will be given to Christian Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank to leave the territory and visit family and partake in religious ceremonies starting on Friday, December 19th until January 19th 2015.
The announcement revealed that Christian-Palestinian from the West Bank would be given long-term entrance to Israel during the holiday season without a quota.
Furthermore, 700 Palestinian-Christians living in Gaza will be able to visit family living in Israel or the West Bank. In this category some provisions apply – the entry permits will only be valid for residents ages 16 and under and 35 and over, while men between the ages of 16 to 35 will only be allowed entry permits following a security check.
Furthermore, 500 Palestinian-Christians from the West Bank will be allowed entry into Gaza to visit family following a security check.
Lastly, 200 Palestinian-Christians from Gaza and the West Bank will be given permission to travel abroad by way of Ben Gurion Airport in coordination with the head of the District Coordination Office and following an individual security screening.
Also noted in the announcement – border crossings will be open extended hours during the next month in tandem with the expanded entry permits.
In 2009, there were an estimated 50,000 Christians living in the Palestinian territories, with about 30,000 Christian-Palestinians living in Gaza and about 127,000 Christian-Arabs living in Israel.