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25 Dec, 2014

Israel allows only 500 Gaza Christians to visit Bethlehem

Dec 24, 2014, PressTV – Israeli forces have announced that they will maintain severe restrictions on Christians arriving from the Gaza Strip for this year’s festivities while there is no restriction for Christians from around the world to visit the city.

This year, only a few hundred Christians living in the coastal enclave, either younger than 16 or older than 35, have been allowed to visit Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity to attend the traditional midnight mass.

Earlier this week, Israel announced that it will consider several restrictive measures on the movement of Palestinian Christians during the Christmas. Palestinians and international rights groups have, time and again, slammed Tel Aviv for restricting Palestinians’ movement in the occupied territories through a racist system.

On Tuesday, Israeli forces violently dispersed a peaceful march calling for Christmas without occupation in Bethlehem. Several Palestinians were injured after coming under attack at an Israeli checkpoint in northern Bethlehem.

More than 123,000 Palestinian Christians live in Occupied Palestine, and another 226,000 reside in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Israel maintains harsh restrictions on the free movement of the Palestinians between Gaza, West Bank and the Occupied Palestine. The discriminatory system imposed on more than 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza has turned the enclave into the biggest open-air prison in the world.