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610 Gaza Christians travel to West Bank for Christmas celebrations
Published Tuesday 24/12/2013 (updated) 25/12/2013 23:57
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(MaanImages/file)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Christian residents of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday left to the West Bank where they will participate in Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem, Palestinian sources said.

Officials in the Palestinian liaison department told Ma'an that Israel allowed 610 Gaza Christians to travel to the West Bank to join Christmas celebrations.

Two-week permits were given to young people under 16 and adults over 35 years old.

Public information officer of the Church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza City Kamil Ayyad told Ma'an that Christmas celebrations in the Gaza Strip are "restricted to religious rites."

He highlighted that previously, a Christmas tree used to be lit every year at the Square of the Unknown Soldier in Gaza City.

"Now adays, we celebrate inside the church only due to the siege and the dire economic and political conditions."

Around 1,500 of the Gaza Strip's 1.7 million residents are Christians, while the rest are Muslim. Christians make up around 10% of the worldwide Palestinian population more broadly.

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe blockade imposed by Israel since 2006. The blockade includes severe restrictions on the movement of Gazans as well as imports and exports.
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1 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
24/12/2013 13:11
Baloney - they celebrate inside because the Islamist fascist government in Gaza is anti-Christian. There is no religios freedom under Hamas, the Egyptian-Israeli blockade has nothing to do with it.

2 ) AKeenReader / UK
24/12/2013 13:42
According to Haaretz newspaper it was only 500 from gaza and 21,000 others so how come Ma'an news is quoting a higher figure thus giving credit to apartheid regome in Israel. It's despicable that in the 21st century an occupying power has control on how many can visit occupied land. Shame on the Israeli govt and all associted with it. All these barbaric acts should be brought to the attention of ICC should the Palestinians approach them in the coming months.

3 ) Henri / F
24/12/2013 15:06
The Dutch scholar Adriaan Reland reported that during the beginning of the 18th century the population of Gaza was mixed, half of it being Jewish and the other half being Christian. Only a few Muslim families lived there. Strange, isn't it? Where do the Muslims come from? And how disappeared the Jews and the Christians? Ethnical cleansing ?

4 ) Maurise Georges / Misr
24/12/2013 15:07
Merry Christmas to all our Palestinian brethren, may God shine His Light on you this Christmas & may all Christians be able to visit the Holy sites in future, especially those from Gaza. There is no Egyptian blockade, Gaza has been under siege for years, stop dragging Egypt into this. Hopefully when his holiness Pope Francis visits the Middle East, he will be able to highlight the suffering of the Palestinian people, which has nothing to do with Hamas, or lack of freedom to worship. God is Great

5 ) Mel / USA
24/12/2013 15:44
Ooo! How'generous','brotherly'of Zionist Israel to 'allow' a few Christians-only to enter a ONCE-PLURALISTIC,now-occupied area,where Muslims,Christians &Jews lived,worked together before fascist Zionism invaded & divided along religious/racist lines(strategically).And what about the Muslims who ALSO honor&respect our Judeo-Christian ancient prophets&teachers? Zionism is Judaism's ideo/political own 'AQ/Taliban'. SHAME ON YOU Israel,for blatantly segregating(dividing)along religious lines,AGAIN.

6 ) Johnny benson / USA
24/12/2013 20:57
The Jews were barred from the temple wall prior to the 67war....and you know it ...Mel

7 ) Jihane / Palestine/France
25/12/2013 02:04
@ Henri le coq gaulois. Adriaan Reland is a favorite Zionist hasbara-point. A couple of years ago, the Zionist websites went wild with his supposed writings about Palestine . Why don't you look at his wikipedia page in Dutch or English. Here's what it says " ..... he never ventured beyond the borders of the Netherlands....". As you're French, why don't you read Jean-Pierre Filiu, historian, fluent in Arabic, prof at Science-Po "Histoire de Gaza".

8 ) Maureen / Australia
25/12/2013 03:37
#1 Brian Cohen Be happy, and celebrate Jesus' birthday (even though it is not the exact date) after all he was one of your kin, remember - of course you do, He was not allowed "religious freedom" either, was He? Something to do with certain of His kin being the "fascist" of His day...

9 ) Rachamim Dwek / Israel
26/12/2013 12:09
Mel: As a Jew whose family has lived here since the Biblical Era I need to tell you that your fantasy about Jews, Christians and Muslims living together in peace before Zionism is extremely ignorant. Since Khalifa 'Umar conquered the Jewish Homeland in 638 CE there hasn't been more than 20 years when Muslim Arabs have slaughtered Jews, and to a slightly lesser extent, Christians as well. Zionism has allowed those who truly wish to live in peace to do so.
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