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Israel eases restrictions for Ramadan

A Palestinian boy sells traditional foods in the Alzaoya market, in preparation for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Gaza City on August 20, 2009. During Ramadan, Muslims all over the world fast from dawn until dusk and give to the poor. It is believed that during this month the prophet Mohammed received the revelations of the Koran. UPI/Ismael Mohamad
1 of 2 | A Palestinian boy sells traditional foods in the Alzaoya market, in preparation for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Gaza City on August 20, 2009. During Ramadan, Muslims all over the world fast from dawn until dusk and give to the poor. It is believed that during this month the prophet Mohammed received the revelations of the Koran. UPI/Ismael Mohamad | License Photo

JERUSALEM, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- Israel eased up restrictions for West Bank Palestinians and extended the operational hours of some of the crossings in the territories for the month of Ramadan.

A statement issued by the Israeli army Thursday said the new measures will be enforced throughout the holy month of Ramadan and the Eid-al-Fitr holiday "as part of Israel's general policy to improve the quality of life of the Palestinian population in the area."

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During the holiday, Israeli Arabs will be permitted to enter Bethlehem and Jenin, and Palestinians wishing to visit relatives in Israel will receive a week-long permit, the army said.

Soldiers manning the main cross points in the West Bank were requested to refrain from smoking, eating and drinking in public as much as possible in front of the fasting Palestinian population.

The army said men over the age of 50 and women over the age of 45 will be allowed to pray at the Temple Mount. The army also said the Allenby Bridge international border crossing will operate 16 hours a day to facilitate the flow of people and goods to and from Jordan.

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The Ramadan holiday began Friday and continues for 30 days. The Islamic holiday, which takes place in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, marks the month the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.

Muslims fast from dawn to sunset throughout the month, ask for forgiveness for their sins, and try to purify themselves through good deeds and self-restraint.

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