JERUSALEM (Dec. 21)
Israel is increasing by 50 percent the size of its police and customs staff at the Mandelbaum Gate separating new from Old Jerusalem and adding two structures in its part of no-man’s land to avoid bottlenecks during the annual crossing by Christian pilgrims into the Old City.
Officials said that about 2,800 pilgrims were expected to cross over on December 24 for the Protestant and Catholic Christmas holiday and about 2,500 for the Eastern holiday on January 5. Jordanian officials have already rejected applications from 133 Israeli pilgrims. The second list of Jordanian rejections is expected shortly before Christmas.