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Dec 19, 8:18 AM EST

Israel relaxes travel restrictions, lets hundreds of Palestinian Christians in for Christmas

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JERUSALEM (AP) -- The Israeli military says it is relaxing travel restrictions for Palestinian Christians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the Christmas holiday season.

The military says it has granted permits to 700 Christians from Gaza to travel to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan. It is also allowing Christians from the West Bank to travel to Israel, and permitting 500 West Bank Christians to visit their families in the Gaza Strip, subject to security checks.

Israel restricts Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from entering the country without special entry permits, citing security concerns. Travel between the two Palestinian territories is also restricted. Israel generally relaxes such restrictions for Christians during the holiday season.

The military says the travel permits went into effect on Friday.

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