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Israel blocks Gaza's Christians from celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem

Israel refused to grant 200 Christians from Gaza permits to enter the West Bank and celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
The Christmas tree at Manger Square near the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, West Bank, Dec. 3, 2022.

Karam Tarazi, a 37-year-old citizen from Gaza City, won’t be celebrating the Christmas festivities held in the cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem in the West Bank this holiday season, after Israeli authorities refused to grant him an entry permit, and only allowed his wife and family members to leave through the Erez border crossing from the Gaza Strip to the Israeli side.

Ahead of the holiday season, the Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza had sent a list of 800 names to the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee in Gaza — the body responsible for communicating with Israeli authorities regarding permit applications submitted by Gaza residents — requesting to go to the West Bank to celebrate Christmas. However, Israel refused to grant entry permits to 200 of them, citing security pretexts.

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