As Christians get ready to celebrate Easter, Palestinian Christians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are envious of fellow Christians from all over the world who are able to visit Jerusalem’s holy Christian sites and worship freely while they cannot.
Since Israel cut off East Jerusalem from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories in the early 1990s, Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been required to get Israeli army permission before they can enter Jerusalem.
The situation worsened since the turn of the century and restrictions got tighter after a 20-foot concrete wall was built all around East Jerusalem barring both Muslim and Christian Palestinians from reaching their holy sites in Jerusalem and its Old City.
“For Christians, Holy Week in Jerusalem has a special spiritual connection,” said a statement issued by the Christian community in the West Bank. “The Old City, its gates and roads, the Mount of Olives, Via Dolorosa and the Holy Sepulchre Church, where pilgrims from all over the world journey to, are equally important to the Palestinian Christians of Gaza and the West Bank, who want to join their Jerusalemite Christian brethren in the liturgical events leading to the resurrection, the holiest celebration in Christianity.”
But West Bank and Gaza Christians reaching Jerusalem even during holidays has become a privilege, rather than a spiritual right. To get to Jerusalem, any Palestinian resident of the West Bank or Gaza of any age or religion has first to get a permit issued by the Israeli military government.These permits do not come easily...READ MORE