• Beit Sahur

  • Saturday, March 23, 2024 at 4:59:32 PM
    Last Update : Tuesday, March 26, 2024 at 8:50 AM

Israel Denies West Bank Christians Licenses to Celebrate Festivities in Jerusalem

(AWP) - As the Passion Week, according to the calendar of the Eastern Churches in Jerusalem, draws near, Israeli authorities have declined to grant licenses for the Christians of the West Bank to enter Jerusalem and practice their religious rituals at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, in the Old City.

William Shomali, Auxiliary Bishop for the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, said that the continued war in Gaza, and the clashes in the West Bank, have overshadowed the festivities.

“We are waiting to celebrate Palm Sunday in two days’ time. There are many Christians who would like to come to Jerusalem to participate in the traditional Palm Sunday march, but they do not have licenses to make it to Jerusalem. We wish they could get these licenses so that people from Ramallah, Bethlehem and other areas of Palestine could take part in the event,” he said.

“This is the first time in history, since the occupation began, that our people in Gaza will not be able to attend the festivities. Usually, they attend the Christmas and Easter celebrations. This year, the people are inside a prison named Gaza, and cannot leave the areas where they stay, whether in the Latin Church in Gaza, the Greek Orthodox Church, or the Church of Saint Porphyrius,” noted Shomali.

Meanwhile, Anton Jarayseh, Director of the Latin School in Beit Sahour, said that the situation is very difficult for many Christian families as they prepare to celebrate Easter.

“We are accustomed to going to Jerusalem to attend the Palm Sunday march, as a popular Christian tradition we have been practicing for years. However, as a result of the war on Gaza, we unfortunately have been denied our rights to practice our very simple religious rituals,” he added.

“Next week will be start of the period of Easter, and Passion Week. We used to head to Jerusalem to attend the celebrations, but due to the current tough circumstances, we are not able to practice the rituals of our faith,” said Jarayseh.

Israel has imposed a siege on the West Bank since the war erupted in Gaza on 7 October, and has canceled all licenses that used to be given to Palestinians, whether for work or for performing religious rituals in Jerusalem.