In efforts to ensure a safe and happy holiday for Christian residents of the Holy Land, the Head of the Unit for Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) toured Jerusalem’s churches and met with local religious leaders.
By Erin Viner
COGAT Major General Rassan Alian was accompanied by the Head of the Civil Administration Brigadier General Fares Atila during the tour yesterday, during which he held talks with leaders of the Christian community including the Vatican’s Ambassador to Israel, the Custos, the Latin Patriarch, and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch.
“After last year, when the Christmas celebrations were held differently due to COVID-19, this year we have successfully put forward a series of holiday measures for the benefit of the Christian residents of Judea and Samira and of the Gaza Strip,” said Maj. Gen. Alian, emphasizing that, “COGAT will continue its work in the cause of freedom of worship and religion among the various sectors and denominations of the region.”
On the occasion of the Christmas holiday, Israel will grant 15,000 additional permits for entry into the country for Christian residents of Judea and Samaria (the biblical term for the West Bank). The quota of permits for church staff will also be expanded.
Israel also approved entry of 500 Christians living in the Islamist Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip so they can visit family members in Judea and Samaria, as well as Jerusalem. In addition, 200 Christian residents of Gaza have been granted exit permits abroad via the Allenby Bridge Crossing into Jordan, subject to applicants’ coronavirus vaccination certification and background security assessment.
In a special Christmas message on my own behalf and all of COGAT, Maj. Gen. Alian wished “all Christians in Judea and Samaria, Gaza and the rest of the world a year of good health and safety, filled with prosperity and success, in which we can celebrate – and at the same time safeguard ourselves and our loved ones.”
Photo Credit: COGAT Spokesperson’s Office.