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Official: Israel lets 557 Christians out of Gaza for holidays

Dec. 20, 2012 10:28 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 24, 2012 9:31 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Israel will allow 557 Christians from the Gaza Strip to leave to the West Bank to participate in holiday celebrations, Palestinian officials and the Israeli army said.

A Palestinian official told Ma'an that the Israeli side delivered 557 permits to Christians seeking to temporarily leave Gaza to join religious celebrations in the occupied West Bank.

They will be allowed to leave Gaza from Dec. 24 until Jan. 8. The time period covers the two main Christmas observances for Catholic and Orthodox, on Dec. 25 and Jan. 7.

Many Christians were not eligible to apply for the permits which are subject to age restrictions. They are only given to Palestinians under 16 years old and older than 35.

An Israeli army statement confirmed "500 visitor permits for Christian Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Israel and the Judea and Samaria Region in order to visit their families and participate in religious ceremonies."

In 2011 Israeli authorities gave 550 Christians from Gaza permits for the holidays.

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