(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)
During the coming Christmas holidays, a large number of tourists, pilgrims and additional guests are expected to arrive in Bethlehem. Israeli security forces make special arrangements at this time of year in order to allow the population to practice their religion freely. In the coming days, the IDF, Civil Administration and Israeli Police will increase their manpower in several locations in the area (such as the "Rachel" crossing) in order to allow a quick, comfortable and efficient passage for the Christian population in and out of the city, and in order to facilitate the different religious ceremonies.
As part of the preparations for the holidays, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj, Gen. Yosef Mishlav, held a meeting with the heads of the Christian communities in the West Bank, in which he wished them well over the holiday season on behalf of himself and the Minister of Defense.
Further coordination meetings were held between representatives from the Bethlehem District Coordination Office and the heads of the Christian community in order to prearrange the passage of the Patriarchs, Bishops and different delegations into the city, and to coordinate the various religious rituals.
- During the holidays, security forces will allow free access to the city for tourists, religious leaders, clergymen and pilgrims, both on foot and by vehicle, with the presentation of a valid passport.
- Palestinian Christians with the appropriate permits from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be able to enter Bethlehem in order to participate in the celebrations and ceremonies.
- Christians from across the West Bank will be able to receive permits to visit their families in Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Israeli security forces will continue to make efforts to maintain the freedom of religion of the Palestinian population, while protecting the citizens of Israel.