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Israel to give permits to Gaza Christians for Christmas vacations

i24NEWS

clock 2 min read

Palestinian Christian Ghada Abu Dawud (R) decorates a Christmas tree with a relative at her home in Gaza city on December 22, 2020.
MAHMUD HAMS / AFPPalestinian Christian Ghada Abu Dawud (R) decorates a Christmas tree with a relative at her home in Gaza city on December 22, 2020.

Israel banned Gazans from leaving the territory last year because of the Covid pandemic

Israeli authorities announced that they would allow 500 members of the small Christian community in the Gaza Strip to enter Israel and the West Bank to celebrate Christmas.

Israel banned Gazans from leaving the territory last year because of the Covid pandemic.

Travel out of Gaza was also restricted since an 11-day war last May between Israel and the territory's Hamas leadership. 

In recent months, Israel began to ease some of the restrictions, granting several thousand Gazans permits to work in the country, as part of Egyptian attempts to negotiate a long-term cease-fire.

COGAT, the Israeli defense agency responsible for Palestinian civil affairs, announced permits for people to visit relatives and holy sites in Israel and the West Bank. 

The agency will also facilitate access to Jerusalem and allow some 200 Christians from Gaza to travel through Israel to Jordan for overseas trips.

Bethlehem, revered by Christians as the birthplace of Christ, is in the West Bank. The city relies heavily on tourism, but Palestinian officials fear there will be few visitors this year because of the lingering effects of the pandemic.

About 1,000 Christians live in Gaza, most of whom are Greek Orthodox, with Catholics making up about a quarter of the small community. 

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