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A not so big "welcome" to Bethlehem, Jericho and Emmaus pilgrims

Israeli authorities are making it impossible for pilgrims to travel to Bethlehem, Jericho, Emmaus and Qumran according to a report just in from PIME:

The report says:

There are obstacles placed in the way of pilgrims wanting to visit the Holy Land. Over the past few days Israeli border officials have been passing a leaflet in English and Arabic to travellers arriving in Israel and Palestine. Written In large print is a great big "Welcome to the State of Israel". However the leaflet specifies that "entry into the territories under the control of the Palestinian Authority" (i.e. Gaza, Judea and Samaria) "is forbidden". This means that it is impossible for pilgrims to reach Bethlehem, Jericho, Emmaus and Qumran, traditional destinations for all Christian pilgrims.

A written request is necessary to enter these territories, while waiting for the authorization from the Israeli military government, which promises to respond within five working days.

The request itself does not authorize any entry. Only a written response from the military government's Foreign Relations Office constitutes a valid authorization.

Anyone daring to enter these territories without authorization risks serious sanctions: "legal measures" and even "deportation and refusal of future re-entry into the State of Israel".

Special instructions are given for those requesting entry into the Gaza Strip. The request must be submitted directly to the Foreign Relations Office, located in the "Erez" crossing, recently the stage of a suicide attack

PIME/ – Pilgrims: A not so big "Welcome" to Bethlehem, Jericho and Emmaus

23 Jan 2004