IDF spokesman announced that pursuant to the decision of the Minister of Defense Mr. Ehud Barak and the Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi and in light of the assessment made by the Central Command and Civil Administration, the Palestinian population in the Judea and Samaria will have restrictions lifted during the Christmas holiday which will take place tomorrow, Thursday De

Date: 24.12.09    

As part of the IDF deployment for Christmas, coordination meetings were held between members of the regional ‘Etzion’ Brigade and the District Coordination Office of the Civil Administration in Bethlehem and their Palestinian counterparts during which it was agreed, among others, that all Christmas ceremonies will adhere to the principle of keeping the status-quo.

As part of the lifting of restrictions organized groups of tourists will be allowed entry by bus, to Bethlehem via all the city’s entry points. This will also apply to senior religious leaders, clergy and pilgrims. These entry points include the ‘Rachel’ crossing point, the tunnel crossing, ‘Mizmoria’, ‘Beitar’ and the ‘Lamed-He’ crossing. Entry will be permitted upon presentation of a passport. Foreign diplomats from various countries are expected to visit Bethlehem during the holiday and media teams from Israel will also be permitted entry to Bethlehem and Ramallah by means of motor vehicles.

All entrance points in the Bethlehem area will continue to operate 24 hours a day and the presence of Civil Administration representatives there will be reinforced in order to ensure the smooth passage of all the visitors into the city.

In addition, 300 Palestinian Christians of age 35 up will be allowed entry from the Gaza Strip to Israel and the Judea and Samaria during the Christmas holiday. The permits will be issued in accordance with security guidelines.

In addition, 300 Palestinian Christians will be issued entry permits to pass through Ben-Gurion International Airport during the holiday contingent on security checks.

The IDF will continue to act to ensure the freedom of religious worship while simultaneously maintaining the normal way of life for the Palestinian population not involved in terror activities, and this in accordance with updated security assessments and the continued fight against terror.