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Israel to lift some restrictions on Palestinians for Ramadan

Some 300 Palestinians abroad will be permitted to visit Gaza, and 500 West Bank Palestinians will be allowed to travel via Ben Gurion airport
Israeli soldiers near checkpoint in northern West Bank, shown in file photo (AFP)

Israel announced on Friday that it was relaxing some restrictions on the movement of Palestinians to and from the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The measures, similar to those of previous years, were announced by COGAT, the unit that manages civilian affairs in the West Bank under the auspices of newly appointed hardline Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

As many as 500 people from the Gaza Strip will be allowed to attend Friday prayers at the Israeli-controlled al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem over the holy month, to begin on Sunday or Monday.

In addition, 200 Gaza residents will be allowed to visit relatives in the West Bank during Ramadan, and 500 Palestinians from the West Bank will be authorised to visit family in Gaza, COGAT said.

Israel will also allow 300 Palestinians living abroad to visit relatives in Gaza, and 500 West Bank Palestinians will be permitted to travel out of Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport, which they are normally not allowed to use.

There will be additional allowances for the Muslim holidays that follow the end of Ramadan.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces shot and wounded three Palestinian protesters during weekly demonstrations on Friday, Maan News reported.

One of the Palestinians was hit by live fire while protesting in the eastern Gaza Strip near the border with Israel. Maan cited an Israeli military spokeswoman as saying that dozens of demonstrators had gathered in the area and rolled burning tires at the border fence.

Two more protesters were shot in the legs by soldiers in the northern West Bank town of Kafr Qaddum and taken to a hospital in Nablus, the Palestinian news website said.

Israeli forces have wounded more than 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since the beginning of this year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs.