TEL AVIV (Aug. 1)
Gen. Itzhak Choffi, military commander of the Galilee area, said today that former residents of Birim and Ikrit would from now on need permits to visit the church and cemetery in the area of the two villages. His order came after several of the former villagers were arrested this morning for staying overnight at the church in violation of the law. It was the second day in which arrests were made. Those arrested were later released on ball.
Archbishop Joseph Raya, spiritual leader of the Maronites in the Galilee, visited the detainees at the Nahariya police station today and told them he would protest to the authorities about the violation of religious rights, since the people were arrested at the church. Former residents of Ikrit and Birim who were evicted from the area when it was declared a security zone in 1948 have been trying to get permission from the Israeli government to return to the two villages.