December 22, 2003

Further Easing of Restrictions for the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for the Christmas season
(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

With the onset of the Christmas holidays, the IDF and the Government Coordinator in the Territories are arranging to accommodate the religious observances of the Christian citizens wishing to exercise their rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The holidays dates:

  • December 24-25 2003 – Catholic Christmas, celebrated by the Latin Patriarch in Bethlehem.
  • January 5-6, 2004 – Epiphany, celebrated by the Franciscan Custos in Bethlehem.
  • January 6-7, Orthodox Christmas, celebrated by the Greek-Orthodox Patriarch in Bethlehem.
  • January 18-19, Armenian Christmas, celebrated by the Armenian Patriarch in Bethlehem.

    Lifting of restrictions for the Christmas holidays:
    (Dec. 24, 2003 – Jan. 19, 2004)

    The West Bank

  • Christians will be allowed to arrive at the Baptism site in Jericho in order to hold prayers.
  • Tourists and Israeli citizens will be permitted to enter Bethlehem from Israel.
  • Israeli and foreign journalists will be able to enter Bethlehem in order to cover Christmas ceremonies and preparations.
  • Nighttime travel will be permitted for all those with appropriate authorization.
  • Public transportation will be provided for as many Christians as wish to travel from the West Bank to Bethlehem.
  • Christians from the West Bank will be allowed, with proper permits, to enter Israel in order to visit relatives and attend religious ceremonies.
  • Christians will be permitted to travel from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip using public transportation.

    The Gaza Strip

  • Christians are authorized to travel from the Gaza Strip to Bethlehem between Dec. 24 and Jan. 19.
  • Christians from the Gaza Strip will be allowed, with proper permits, to enter Israel in order to visit relatives and attend religious ceremonies.