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Passover Closure to Lift for Easter

Most PA Arabs will not be granted entrance to Israel over Passover, however, restrictions will be lifted for Christians on Easter.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 3/29/2010, 11:55 AM / Last Update: 3/29/2010, 12:35 PM

The IDF will impose a closure on Judea, Samaria, and Gaza during the Passover holiday, meaning that Palestinian Authority Arabs will not be allowed to enter Israel during that time. The closure began on Sunday at midnight, and will continue until April 4 at midnight.

Only Arab men over 50 will be allowed on the Temple Mount, which will be closed to Jews for security reasons despite the plans to ascend there before the Passover holiday begins.

Doctors, lawyers, humanitarian workers, and religious officials and teachers working in Jerusalem will be allowed to travel to and from Israel and Jerusalem despite the closure.

In addition, the IDF will lift the closure for Christians, allowing them to celebrate the upcoming holiday of Easter. The roughly 10,000 Christians living in Judea and Samaria and 500 in Gaza will be given permits allowing them to travel freely throughout Judea, Samaria and Israel for several days in order to visit family and take part in religious ceremonies.

The IDF regularly prohibits access to Israel for most PA Arabs during Jewish holidays. The closure is intended to reduce the risk of terrorist attacks. Terrorists have often timed their attacks to coincide with Jewish holidays, in order to maximize the number of casualties and the blow to Israeli morale.

One of the biggest mass-casualty terrorist attacks in recent years, the Park Hotel massacre, took place during the Passover seder in 2002. Thirty people were murdered by a PA Arab suicide bomber, and 140 more were wounded.

Sunday's announcement of the routine closure made front-page news on the American news site CNN, and was initially placed more prominently than the double suicide bombing in Moscow, with the closure being a full article on the main page and the bombing a one line link.