December 23rd, 2009
IDF Spokesperson and COGAT Spokesman Announcement
Unlimited Quota of Permits Issued to Christian Palestinians during Christmas
In anticipation of the upcoming Christmas Holiday, beginning December 24th,
2009, the IDF and Civil Administration have presented a number of goodwill
gestures to the Palestinian population in the Judea and Samaria region. The
decision to carry out these improvements was made in accordance with the
directives of Minister of Defense, Mr. Ehud Barak, the IDF Chief of the
General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and in light of security assessments
of the IDF Central Command and the Civil Administration.
The goodwill gestures include issuing an unlimited quota of one month-long
permits for Palestinian residents of the Judea and Samaria region, allowing
them entry to Israel for religious and family gatherings. More than 10,000
permits, valid between December 20th and January 20th were issued up to now.
In addition, 300 Christian-Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip over the
age of 35 will be permitted entry into the Judea and Samaria region for 24
hours during the holiday. Another 300 Christian Palestinians will be
permitted to cross to the Ben Gurion International Airport. These permits
will be issued subject to a security clearance.
As part of the preparations for the Holiday, the COGAT, Maj. Gen. Eitan
Dangot, and Head of the Civil Administration, Brig. Gen. Yoav (Poly)
Mordechai, held a meeting with patriarchs and heads of churches from
Bethlehem and Jerusalem. In addition, officials from the Civil
Administration's Bethlehem DCL and the Etzion Regional Brigade held meetings
with their Palestinian counterparts. A decision was made that all Christmas
ceremonies will take place according to the 'Status-Quo Principle,' relating
to the ceremonial tradition established in years past.
Throughout the holiday, tourists, senior religious officials, priests, and
pilgrims may enter Bethlehem by presenting their passports at the relevant
crossings (Rachel, the Tunnel Road, Mezmoriah, Beter and Lamed-Hey).
Additionally, Israeli journalists will be authorized to enter the cities of
Bethlehem and Ramallah with their vehicles. Diplomats from various countries
are also expected to visit throughout the holiday.
All crossings in the Bethlehem area will continue to operate on a 24 hour
basis, with a reinforced presence of Civil Administration personnel who will
ensure that all visitors can cross into the city unhindered.
Israeli security forces will continue to operate in order to ensure freedom
of religion and normal way of life for Palestinians uninvolved in terrorism.
This is in accordance with security assessments and while continuing to