Christians leave Gaza for Christmas, New Year for 1st time since Covid-19 outbreak: spokesman

Hundreds of Palestinian Christians in the Gaza strip have left the besieged enclave for the West Bank to celebrate Christmas and the New Year, for the first time in two years since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, a spokesman for the Christian community in Gaza has said.

Kamel Ayyad, Spokesman of the Christian community in Gaza, told Xinhua on Tuesday that 722 Christians from Gaza applied to the Israeli side for permits to visit Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Jordan, and 468 of them obtained permits and left earlier this week to Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan.

The rest of the applicants, many of whom are children, women and elderly, were banned from leaving Gaza for unspecified security reasons, he added.

The Gaza strip, home to more than 2 million Palestinians, has been under an Israeli blockade since Hamas violently seized control of the coastal enclave in 2007, Xinhua news agency reported.

Before 2007, the number of Christians living in Gaza had reached 5,000. Now there are 800 only, according to Ayyad.

In the Gaza strip, most Christians are Greek Orthodox.

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