As Muslims across the Middle East and around the world begin the month of Ramadan, Israel is easing travel restrictions for Palestinians in the West Bank.
Haaretz is reporting Israel's Defense Minister says during the month, Palestinians who are at least 40 years old will be allowed to freely enter Jerusalem’s Temple Mount to pray on Friday. Those between the ages of 35-40 will require a special permit.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) website also says Palestinians accompanied by children under the age of 16 will be able to freely visit relatives in Israel. The easing of restrictions will also allow up to 500 foreign nationals to enter the West Bank via the Allenby border terminal on the Jordanian border. The crossing will remain open on Wednesday's and Thursday's as well during the period.
The military has added extra troops at the Allenby Terminal, including a medical team to hand out water because of Israel's current heat wave. And the government is telling soldiers, that when possible they are supposed to refrain from eating, drinking and smoking in front of Palestinians “to demonstrate a high level of respect and understanding."
At news conference for Arab Media, Israeli President Shimon Peres unveiled a new video clip with a Ramadan greeting. In the video, he says,“Salam Alaikum. On Behalf of all the Israeli people I want to extend to all Muslims around the world my very best wishes for Ramadan Karim. This holy month is an opportunity to extend the hands to each other for peace. May it be a peaceful year for the region and its people. I send my warmest greeting to all of you, to all our neighbors.” He also references the big political changes across the Middle East when he says, "The younger generation wants change. I wish the younger generation in Arab countries success in creating a better society, more open, and more prosperous." He breaks into a smile as he ends the message, saying, "Ramadan is a good time to make new friends. I invite you to be my friends on Facebook.”