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Israel to ease some travel restrictions on Palestinians for holiday

COGAT says 500 West Bank residents will be able to fly out of Ben Gurion airport, 400 Gazans to be allowed to visit Jerusalem during Eid al-Adha

Israeli soldiers stand guard, as Palestinians make their way through a checkpoint to attend Friday prayers at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, April 29, 2022. (Wisam Hashlamoun/ Flash90/ File)
Israeli soldiers stand guard, as Palestinians make their way through a checkpoint to attend Friday prayers at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, April 29, 2022. (Wisam Hashlamoun/ Flash90/ File)

The Israeli military body that regulates Palestinians’ movement into Israeli territory announced Sunday that some restrictions on travel would be loosened during the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday.

Eid al-Adha, held this year on July 9-13, is one of the holiest days in the Muslim calendar and is traditionally accompanied by large family gatherings.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, widely known by its acronym COGAT, said its office had approved the measures.

“We emphasize that the issuance of all the permits, both for residents of the Judea and Samaria area and residents of the Gaza Strip, will be subject to security evaluations,” COGAT said, using the biblical name for the West Bank that is commonly used in Israel.

West Bank Palestinians will be allowed special permission to visit family members in Israel. Some 500 Palestinians will be allowed to fly out of Ben Gurion Airport, while another 200 will be allowed to visit the southern city of Eilat.

Tighter restrictions will remain on the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by the Hamas terror group. The coastal enclave has been blockaded by both Israel and Egypt since Hamas took over in a violent coup some 15 years ago.

Nonetheless, 400 Palestinians from Gaza will receive the prized permits to visit Jerusalem during the sacred festival. Only men over the age of 55 and women over the age of 50 are eligible, COGAT said.

Israel will permit another 500 Palestinians from Gaza to visit family inside Israel and the West Bank, according to COGAT.

Tensions in the West Bank have risen sharply in recent months, after Israeli security forces stepped up operations following a deadly wave of terror attacks that left 19 people dead between mid-March and the beginning of May. The raids have concentrated on the increasingly unstable Jenin area, from where several of the attackers hailed.

Forty-nine Palestinians have been killed since late March across Israel and the Palestinian territories, including attackers or individuals clashing with troops, suspected terrorists and innocent bystanders.

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