Israel has imposed restrictions on Ethiopian pilgrims travelling to the country for the upcoming Easter holiday. The Israeli authorities said that because of the war in the north of Ethiopia they were worried that many of the visitors would not return home. Tourist agencies have confirmed told the BBC that Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority had issued a letter to say that Ethiopia Christian pilgrims should apply for permits individually. The move has been met with criticism from Israeli tour operators. The head of the Israel Incoming Tour Operators Association is quoted by the Times of Israel as saying it was “severely discriminatory” as it only applied to Ethiopians. But Israeli authorities defended their decision, saying many tourist groups from Ethiopia have stayed in the country “illegally” in the past few years – something they fear could be exacerbated by the ongoing civil war. The 16-month-old conflict is continuing to impact millions across the country’s north.
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