Israel Blocks Some Christians from Holy Fire Ceremony in Jerusalem

The Holy Fire ceremony in Jerusalem's Holy Sepulcher. (Photo: Mar Sharb, via Wikimedia Commons)

Israeli military checkpoints on Saturday morning obstructed access of Palestinian Christians to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to take part in the Holy Fire ceremony, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Israeli authorities decided last week to limit the number of people who can be at the church to around 2000, including police officers.

This decision was strongly rejected by the Orthodox churches and the Palestinian Christian community who say that the number of visitors of the Holy Sepulcher every year is normally ten times this number and demanded freedom of access to the religious sites.

Large crowds were seen since the morning hours of Saturday waiting outside the New Gate, one of the gates leading to the Old City, hoping to be able to cross the police checkpoints and take part in the Holy Light ceremony.

The Holy Fire Ceremony is centuries old. It happens annually at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on Holy Saturday, the day before the Orthodox Church celebrates Easter.


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