Israeli authorities decided on Friday to limit the number of Palestinian Christians allowed to visit the Holy Sepulcher Church for the Holy Fire ceremony, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
The Holy Fire is one of the main Easter events for the Orthodox churches in Jerusalem and the world and occurs a day before the Orthodox Easter.
Israeli forces prevent the access of Christians celebrating Holy Saturday to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem. pic.twitter.com/XdfCvOFXbp
— PALESTINE ONLINE 🇵🇸 (@OnlinePalEng) April 23, 2022
Israeli police closed all gates leading to the old city, forcing the Christians who want to reach the church to go through only one gate, the New Gate while being monitored and restricted by the police manning this gate.
Israeli occupation forces assault Christian worshipers in their way to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the old city of occupied #Jerusalem to attend the Holy Fire ceremony. pic.twitter.com/sLfAvIEe1C
— Wafa News Agency – English (@WAFANewsEnglish) April 23, 2022
Traditionally, thousands of local Christians and pilgrims attend the Holy Fire event inside the church, but this year Israel has restricted the number who can reach the Sepulcher Church to only 4000, in a move strongly rejected by the church leaders and the community.
The Islamic Palestinian Resistance Movement Hamas condemned the decision in a statement released on Friday.
— Palestine News 24/7 (@PaliNewsBot) April 23, 2022
“This a historical precedent that the Israeli occupation allows courts to directly intervene in the management of religious affairs for the Palestinian people,” the statement said, adding that the move reflects Israel’s “racist nature”.
The Palestinian people “have the right and willpower to defend their Muslim and Christian sacred sites, and no Israeli plan will deter or people from doing so at any price,” the statement added.
(The Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)