Israel will allow about half of the Christians in the Gaza Strip to leave the coastal enclave to attend Christmas masses and celebrations in Israel and the West Bank.

The border with Gaza is heavily blockaded and passage is typically limited to medical emergencies. But every year Israel issues a set number of permits to Christians to travel from Gaza to Christian sites or to be with family in the West Bank for the holidays.

Last year, however, Israel prevented Christians from leaving Gaza due to restrictions connected with the COVID pandemic.

Out of a population of just under 2 million in Gaza, Christians comprise an estimated 1,000 residents, most of whom belong to the Greek Orthodox denomination and some to the Catholic church. A scant 100 or so are Evangelical.

Israel has also recently increased the number of work permits for Gaza residents after loosening restrictions set in place following the 11-day conflagration in May between terror groups in the Gaza Strip and the Jewish state.

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