Saturday, January 16, 2021

Palestinian Christians denied to visit the holy sites for Easter

By Jessica Purkiss - April 13, 2013
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [freedom of movement] [checkpoints] [permits] [Passover] [Easter] [Palm Sunday]

Easter in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem. Photo by Lazar Simeonov.


Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday are two of the most important dates in the Christian calendar. Jerusalem is a pivotal part of these festivities.  According to the bible Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey where the people lay down their cloaks and waved palm leaves, hence Palm Sunday. It is also the place where the bible depicts the death of Jesus, the twelve’s station of the cross that led to his crucifixion and wher. To be in Jerusalem on the occasion of the Palm Sunday and the Easter Weekend is an emotional experience for many Christians.

However for the Palestinian Christians in the West Bank it is unlikely they will be able to visit their holy sites at one of the holiest times in their calendar, despite the fact Jerusalem in only 7km for Bethlehem, one of the cities in the West Bank with the largest Christian population.

To visit Jerusalem most Palestinians require an Israeli issued permit. This is despite the fact that East Jerusalem lies within the Green Line and is internationally considered part of the West Bank, however it has been annexed by Israel. Palestinians without Israeli id’s are separated from the city, which is supposed to be Palestine’s capital, by the Apartheid Wall and a series of checkpoints manned by Israeli soldiers.

According to the PLO parishes from Bethlehem and Ramallah areas received between 30% and 40% of the permits they requested.

The Israeli military issued a general closure of the West Bank for just over a week until the 2 April

“The fact that so many Palestinian Christian communities are denied their simple human right to worship freely in their own capital city is unacceptable,” said Hanan Ashrawi of the PLO, according to +972 . 

Though Palestinians claimed that only half of the 50,000 permit requests were approved by Israel, the Israeli government said it rejected only 192 of the 19,000 requests it had received -- because of security reasons, said the Catholic News service.

This year the Easter celebrations coincided with the Jewish holiday of Passover. The Israeli military issued a general closure of the West Bank for just over a week until the 2 April according to a statement from the Israeli army, although this was not followed strictly.

"Persons in need of medical attention, humanitarian aid or exceptional cases will be permitted to pass for care, with the authorization of the Civil Administration," added the Israeli military according to Ma’an News.

This also meant stricter controls at checkpoints across the West Bank making it even harder for those hoping to access Jerusalem for the Easter celebrations. 

Access to Jerusalem does not just affect the Palestinian Christians; it also effects the Muslim population with Islam’s third holiest site in the world, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem. Israeli control over access to not only Jerusalem but to the religious sites themselves infringes on the right to worship, a right outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights under Article 18. 

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