Israel to restrict entry of Gaza Christians for Easter

Israeli authorities say they have decided to block most of Gaza's small Christian community from traveling to Jerusalem for the upcoming Easter holiday, citing security concerns.

COGAT, the defense body that oversees Palestinian civilian concerns, says it will allow only people 55 and older to enter Israel.

Israel maintains a blockade over the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and restricts entry from the territory.

COGAT said Thursday the restrictions are needed to prevent people from fleeing and overstaying their stays in Israel.

Wadie Abunassar, a Catholic Church official, called the restrictions "very sad," adding he hopes Israel would reconsider.

He says Easter is a family holiday focused on events in Jerusalem. He says it is "not reasonable" allowing a father and mother to enter while "leaving their children back in Gaza."