Israel Announces ‘Gestures’ in Advance of Muslim Festival

Qalandiya Checkpoint. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

While Israel has taken steps this week to ease the humanitarian situation in Gaza – including allowing more goods through the Kerem Shalom crossing, and increasing the area that Gaza fishermen can operate in – the government on Thursday authorized a series of gestures for Arab residents of Palestinian Authority-controlled areas.

The gestures will be in place between August 21st and 24th, during the celebration of a Muslim religious festival.

The gestures include allowing Israeli Arab relatives of residents of PA-controlled areas to visit, without regard to the age of visitors (generally, such visits are limited to adults); allowing any male over 50 and female over 40 to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Har HaBayis; increasing the number of visas for relatives of PA Arabs living abroad to visit family; allowing Arabs in PA-controlled areas of Yehudah and Shomron to visit first-degree relatives in Gaza without limitation; and increased permits for PA Arabs to travel abroad via Ben Gurion airport. In addition, hours at most security checkpoints will be expanded.

The IDF coordinator for activities in Yehudah and Shomron, Kamil Abu-Rukun, informed local leaders in PA Arab areas of the gestures. A full list of the gestures was also posted on Arabic-language social media pages of the IDF and Civil Administration. The gestures were authorized as “part of Israel’s efforts to improve the lives of the Palestinian population in Yehudah and Shomron, and to ensure a stable security situation.”

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