(Communicated by COGAT - Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories)
In anticipation of the Christian holiday season (19 December 2011 - 20 January 2012), the Minister of Defense and the IDF Chief of General Staff have approved special measures to ease the restrictions on the Christian population in the Gaza Strip and in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank):
- Approval to issue entry permits for Palestinian Christians from Judea and Samaria to Israel (without age limitations) for the entire Christmas season.
- Exit approval for up to 400 Palestinian Christians via Ben Gurion airport for the holiday period, subject to security inspection.
- Exit approval for up to 500 Palestinian Christians from the Gaza Strip to Israel and to Judea and Samaria for the purpose of family visits and participation in religious rituals - under the age of 16 and over the age of 46.
- A quota of 200 visitors' permits for Christians from Arab countries to Judea and Samaria during the holiday season.
On Wednesday, December 14, the head of the Bethlehem District Coordination and Liaison Office, Lt.-Col. Iyad Sarhan, will host representatives of the Jerusalem and Bethlehem patriarchates - Latin, Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Coptic, Syriac and Ethiopian. The visit is a part of the traditional conference for heads of Christian communities held each year ahead of the Christmas holidays. They will hear a review regarding the preparations made by the IDF and the Civil Administration for the expected ceremonies, and the coordination with the Palestinian security services. The head of the DCL will also present the goodwill gestures ahead of Christmas holidays, as approved by the Minister of Defense and the Chief of General Staff.