Israeli Christians Allowed to Spend Christmas in Bethlehem

The Israeli government announced that it would not prevent Israeli Christians from visiting Bethlehem for Christmas celebrations, according to sources. Although Israeli citizens were previously banned from entering areas under full Palestinian control, the recently made decision will be an easing of the law.

The ban, which keeps Israeli citizens from entering the so-called Area A, was imposed to guarantee the safety of Israeli citizens after several Israelis were killed or “horribly lynched” in such areas, according to AsiaNews.

According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affrairs, the easing of restrictions in light of Christmas will take place between Dec. 24 and Jan. 19 and include the following:

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.