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4-year-old Israeli child killed by mortar fire in Nahal Oz
Christians: Israel violates Palestinian religious freedoms each Easter
Published Sunday 06/04/2014 (updated) 06/05/2014 16:15
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Palestinian priest Father Shomali leads an open air mass on church
lands threatened with confiscation by Israeli authorities for the
separation wall on April 6, 2012 (AFP/Musa al Shaer)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A group of Christians from East Jerusalem on Sunday said that Israel's restrictions on Palestinian mobility resulted in violations of religious freedoms.

The statement, signed "Palestinian Christian Organizations in Occupied East Jerusalem," complained that Christians are often denied access to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during the Easter holidays.

Each Easter, checkpoints are erected "at the Gates and in the alley, thus preventing the worshipers from free access to the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the vicinity of the Christian Quarter."

Israel's restrictions on Palestinian Christians are a part of larger strategy of Judaization in Jerusalem, the statement said.

"The restrictive measures constitute grave violation on the freedom of worship, and amount to discrimination against Christians because the occupation authorities want to negate Christian presence and create the impression of a Jewish-only city."

Both Christians and Muslims are often "unable to worship freely and to be with their families and friends" during religious holidays because of Israel's actions, the statement went on to note.

The organizations called on Christians to make attempts to attend Easter celebrations in Jerusalem despite the countless restrictions.

In a report published in 2012, the US State Department made similar observations.

"Strict closures and curfews imposed by the Israeli government negatively affected residents' ability to practice their religion at holy sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, as well as the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem," the report said.

"The separation barrier significantly impeded Bethlehem-area Christians from reaching the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and made visits to Christian sites in Bethany (al-Eizariya) and Bethlehem difficult for Palestinian Christians who live on the Jerusalem side of the barrier."

East Jerusalem, including the historic Old City, was occupied by Israeli forces in 1967 and later annexed in a move not recognized by the international community.
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1 ) Colin Wright / USA
06/04/2014 19:57
Another good line of attack for the Palestinians is to persistently work to bring Israel's treatment of Christianity to the attention of American evangelicals. Ultimately, all that is needed to destroy Israel is light. Lots and lots of light...

2 ) The Christians in Israel / NEVER HAD IT BETTER
06/04/2014 20:12
IN HISTORY They know it.

3 ) Rami / Palestine
07/04/2014 11:38
#2 They never had it better....riiight. Tell me again where you are from because clearly it isn't HERE. Israeli Jews do not have the right to tell me a Palestinian Christian how good I have it or how well I'm treated. I will tell them that.

4 ) Peter Beck / USA
07/04/2014 19:07
As Rami wrote, "Israeli Jews do not have the right to tell me a Palestinian Christian how good I have it or how well I'm treated. I will tell them that." Not just American Christians, but all informed Americans can help shine that light that Colin Wright refers to. I pray the American taxpayer finally awakens from their hypnotic slumber to speak out for justice in Palestine and to put an end to military support for Israel.

5 ) Martin / Iceland
08/04/2014 02:52
West countries should stop giving money to the zionism government in Israel. And also stop to putting money in terrorist groups in Syria.

6 ) valerie / al Quds
08/04/2014 12:14
totally agree with Rami Peter and Martin. The western powers and Isra?l have deep responsabilities in the bloodshed in all the area that affects directly also the christians arabs notably palestinians christians.

7 ) never had it better / Christians
08/04/2014 17:27
can comments like this be hard to follow. This man/woman probably knows nothing about history or religions in this area where things happen but in the end the respect in what you believe in inevitable all has rights to worship here the holy land or what ever you want to call it zionism and Israel has no respect for any of the three religions Jews Christians Muslims

8 ) Sister Esther / UK
10/04/2014 13:17
Thanks for publicising the restrictions imposed on Palestinians Christians - it's a shame that more cannot be done to just peacefully carry on despite government rulings and show peace as Christians, Jews and Muslims - as has Archbishop Elias Chacour in this Educational Institutions in Israel. Carry on the good peaeful work and prayer please!

9 ) Jane / USA
12/04/2014 01:28
Why is it that few people comment on how after 1967, the muslims were given control of the Temple Mount, the site of the first and second Temple in Jerusalem, a place considered sacred by all three Abrahamic faiths -Jew, Christians, and Muslims - but the muslims forbid anyone non muslim to pray at that place. Christians and Jews are frequently stoned by palestinian muslims at that tourist and sacred site to discourage non muslims from going there. Only place on earth where all people can't pray.

10 ) Mel / USA
19/04/2014 20:56
#9:Jane should travel more & read your modern history! Muslims were NOT given FREE control of Al Aqsa.It was put under custodianship of Jordan's King(a colonial puppet)&he does NOTHING-along with Absolutist Islamic state Saudi(akin to Absolutist Jews-only Israel)-to speak for pluralistic Jerusalem. And,I've been into mosques,synagogues worldwide & welcomed as a guest after I ASKED politely,if I could visit,first! The overwhelming reply was,"Of course!Welcome!". "can't pray"freely=Israel&Saudi!
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