In light of the upcoming Christmas Holiday, the IDF and Civil Administration are making a number of goodwill gestures, beginning Sunday December 19th, 2010, for the benefit of the Palestinian population in the Judea and Samaria region. These measures were decided 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 by the IDF Central Command and the Civil Administration.
As part of the preparations for the Holiday, the Coordinator of the Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, and the Head of the Civil Administration, Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz, will visit church leaders and present them with the preparations made in light of the expected religious ceremonies that will take place during the holiday. In addition, officials from the Civil Administration’s Bethlehem DCO, under the command of Lt.-Col. Eyad Sirhan, met with their Palestinian counterparts and with community leaders in Bethlehem in order to ensure the Christmas ceremonies would take place in accordance with the ‘Status-Quo Principle,’ relating to the ceremonial traditions established in previous years. With that, IDF forces, the Israel Police, and the Civil Administration will further secure the Bethlehem crossings in order to better facilitate the entry of the thousands of pilgrims expected to visit the city during the holiday season.
The goodwill gestures that will be implemented for the Christmas holiday, in place from Sunday, December 19th 2010 until Thursday, January 20th 2011 include:
- Christian Palestinian residents of the Judea and Samaria Region (regardless of age) will be permitted to cross into Israel for the duration of the entire Christmas celebrations, including lodging.
- 300 Christian Palestinians will be permitted to travel via the Ben Gurion International Airport for the duration of the holiday, subject to security assessment.
- 500 Christian Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip over the age of 35 will be permitted entry into the Judea and Samaria region and into Israel for religious and family gatherings. The permits will be given subject to a security clearance.
- 200 Christian residents of Arab countries will be permitted to enter the Judea and Samaria Region during the holiday.
The IDF will continue to operate in order to ensure that the Christian population in the Judea and Samaria Region can celebrate the Christmas Holiday.