For some years now, Israel has allowed Christians from Gaza to travel to Israel and the West Bank on the Christian holidays, generally at Christmas and Easter. Travel is permitted according to predetermined criteria. Some two weeks before Christmas of 2011, when the Israeli authorities published the criteria for travel for that holiday, it became clear that the age criteria had been raised significantly from previous years. Only residents over the age of 46, rather than 35, were eligible to travel. Gisha therefore contacted Ms. Ruth Bar, assistant to the Defense Minister, asking the age criteria be reconsidered. The authorities ultimately retracted, and the age criteria returned to 35.In view of this, along with the fact that on March 27, 2012, about a week before Easter, exit criteria for the holiday had yet to be published, Gisha contacted the Ministry of Defense in order to ensure that the criteria are published promptly and that they are not narrowed.
The letter recalled Israel’s declared policy, since June 2010, that measures must be taken to relax the restrictions on the civilian population in Gaza, and noted that over the years, there has been a trend toward relaxing and expanding access policy for the Christian holidays.