The IDF has announced several gestures meant to ease life and "demonstrate respect" for Palestinian Authority Arabs, the majority of whom are Muslim, during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The new procedures will go into effect on Saturday.
As one of the gestures, IDF soldiers have been asked not to eat, drink or smoke in front of PA Arabs, many of whom will be fasting during the daytime throughout the month-long holiday. IDF spokesmen explained that soldiers will be allowed to eat when they please, but have been asked to refrain from doing so in public, in order to “demonstrate a high level of respect and understanding.”
Soldiers and police have been given explanatory material regarding the holiday and its customs.
In another move meant to ease life for PA Arabs, the IDF will keep two crossings leading to Jenin and Ramallah open until midnight each day. Other crossings in the Jenin and Ramallah areas will operate 24 hours a day.
A third “gesture” will benefit both Israeli Arabs and PA Arabs: Israeli Arabs will be allowed to visit the PA-controlled cities of Jenin and Bethlehem during the daytime. Visits will be permitted on every day aside from Fridays, which are generally considered more dangerous due to the weekly sermons in mosques on that day, which are sometimes used to stir worshippers to violence.
Israeli Arabs may enter Jenin between the hours of 9 and 11 a.m., and buses will leave between 4 p.m. And 10 p.m.
Visits in Bethlehem will be permitted to those with family in the area. In addition, PA Arabs with immediate family in Israel will be granted week-long passes to enter pre-1967 Israel for the purpose of family visits.
The “gestures” were determined by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in coordination with IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.