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Israeli Church Leaders Urge Government to Allow Gazans Into Bethlehem for Christmas



Photo of people walking by "The Walled Off Hotel"
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Catholic leaders in Israel urged the government on Thursday to allow Christians in Gaza to visit Bethlehem, in the West Bank, for Christmas next week.

Authorities said last week that Gaza’s Christians, who number some 1,200, would not be permitted to travel to the West Bank for the holiday. About 950 Gazans applied to leave for Christmas; the government agreed to allow 100 people over the age of 45 to travel to Jordan and not to the West Bank.

The past week saw efforts to convince authorities to change their decision, and earlier this week the coordinator for government activities in the territories’ website posted a link saying that 500 people would be allowed to leave Gaza for Christmas. A few hours later, the link was deleted and the office said a decision had not been reached, blaming a technical glitch.

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