• Bethlehem

  • Sunday, April 28, 2024 at 9:30 PM
    Last Update : Tuesday, May 7, 2024 at 6:50 AM

Bethlehem’s Eastern Churches Mark Palm Sunday Solemnly Amid Gaza War

(Arab World Press) - The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in the West Bank witnessed a subdued celebration of Palm Sunday by Eastern Christian churches, commemorating Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, where he was warmly received with palm fronds.

The usual signs of joy and happiness were absent in Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahur as celebrations were confined to religious rituals due to Israel’s sustained military operations in the West Bank and the ongoing war on the Gaza Strip since last October.

Bethlehem resident Charlotte Abu Rudeineh, said, “Today is Palm Sunday in Bethlehem. Unfortunately, difficult circumstances have overshadowed it. Although we have a war in Gaza, religious rituals must continue.”

She added, “We support the people of Gaza and our hearts are always with them. These prayers are for peace, love and calm. We hope things will return to how they used to be.”

People gathered at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem for religious services to mark the beginning of Passion Week, celebrated by the Greek Orthodox, Syriac, Armenian and Ethiopian Orthodox communities, culminating in the Easter Mass next Sunday.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarchal Representative in Bethlehem, Metropolitan Benedictos of Diocesarea, led the mass, with the participation of other clergy, before the traditional palm fronds procession in the church’s courtyard.

Father Issa Thaljieh, priest of the Greek Orthodox denomination in Bethlehem, said, “On this holy day when we gather for prayers, we make invocations to the Almighty for peace and love to prevail.”

He added, “This is indeed the message of Easter, the message of hope and love, from the city of Bethlehem. We raise palm fronds and olive branches to signify peace and love, despite the agony and hardships our country is going through.”

“Prayers are always there. Our hope exists and it is capable of anything,” he stressed.