(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman and Coordinator of Government Activities in the West Bank and Gaza)
With the arrival of Christmas, the IDF together with the Coordinator of Government Activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, are making preparations in order to provide Christian citizens with the freedom to perform religious rites so that they can fulfill Christian holiday duties in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The holidays take place:
– December 24-25 2004,- Catholic Christmas, the Latin Patriarch enters Bethlehem.
– January 5, 2005 – entrance of the Custos as part of the "Festival of Revelation."
– January 6-7, 2005 – Orthodox Christmas, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch enters Bethlehem.
– January 18-19, 2005 – Armenian Christmas, Armenian Patriarch enters Bethlehem.
Easing of restrictions in light of Christmas:
(between Dec. 24 and Jan. 19)
The West Bank
- Christians are allowed to arrive for prayer ceremonies, for dipping in the Hajlla, entering Jericho and Bethlehem, as part of granting freedom of movement for the performance of religious rites.
- Entry access for tourists and Israeli Christian citizens from Israel to Bethlehem and Jericho, to attend religious ceremonies.
- Entry access for 500 Christian religious figures to Bethlehem from Israel to attend religious ceremonies.
- Entry access for Israeli and foreign journalists to Bethlehem for the purpose of covering the preparation for Christmas ceremonies and the ceremonies themselves.
- Permission for 100 Palestinians with dual citizenship to go abroad via Ben Gurion Airport.
- Permission for West Bank Christians to enter Bethlehem, with no restriction on number of people.
- Entry of West Bank Christians into Israel for the purpose of visiting families and of participating in religious ceremonies will be accommodated in coordination with their permits.
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 attand religious ceremonies.