East al-Quds Only Open to ‘Non-Palestinian’ Christians

Only non-Palestinian Christians will be allowed to enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in East Jerusalem (al-Quds) on Saturday, when eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate "Saturday of Light."

Israeli security officials informed church officials that only international pilgrims would be allowed to access the Old City and the church located in the site.

Saturday of Light is held the day before Easter with Christians lining in the streets of the Old City and holding bunches of candles in anticipation of the miracle fire.

Worshipers in the church light their candles and spread the fire to waiting pilgrims who take the miracle fire back to their homes as a symbol of community, hope and renewal.

The Israeli restrictions are the latest in a wave of prohibitions targeting Christian Palestinian worshipers in the Easter season.

On Palm Sunday, West Bank Christians were prevented from taking part in the Triumphal Entry procession, which traces the path believed to have been taken by Jesus on his return to the holy city before his crucifixion.

West Bank Christians were initially granted Easter permits to access the area, but a closure announced a day before the week-long Jewish event of Passover shut down checkpoints for permit holders.

On Palm Sunday, hundreds of international activists, Muslim supporters and Christians in Bethlehem (al-Quds) marched toward the 300 checkpoint that Israeli officials had closed earlier in the day.

Israeli soldiers detained 10 protesters including Abbas Zaki, member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee.

It is unclear whether the restrictions would stand for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Israel also imposed harsh access limitations on Palestinian Muslims during Ramadan last year.

(Press TV)

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