No Christmas for Gaza Christians
Data collected in recent years confirm the steady increase in the number of pilgrims and tourists who come from around the world to Jerusalem and Bethlehem to visit the Holy Places, especially during the December holiday season.
But this year, among the many who will celebrate the Christmas holidays where Christ is said to have been born, there will be no Christians permitted from Gaza.
On Thursday, December 12, 2019, Israeli authorities announced that Christians living in Gaza will only be granted permits to go abroad, via Jordan, but none of them will be able to go to Israel or the West Bank to spend their Christmas days at the Christian Holy Places.
The spokeswoman for the Israeli military office dealing with relations with the Palestinians justified this provision by referring to security reasons, according to Fides News Agency.
The measure taken this year by the Israeli authorities represents a further restrictions on the Christians of Gaza.
In recent years, the Israeli authorities had sometimes guaranteed a limited but substantial number of permits reserved for Christians of Gaza who wanted to go especially to Bethlehem, Nazareth or Jerusalem to celebrate the Christian holidays of Christmas or Easter there. Already last year there was a substantial limitation of permits granted by the Israeli authorities, which had been reserved only for people over the age of 55.