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Archbishop condemns Israeli restrictions on Easter pilgrims
Published Thursday 10/04/2014 (updated) 06/05/2014 16:15
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(MaanImages/file)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna condemned Israeli authorities on Thursday for imposing obstacles on Christians wishing to enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem to celebrate the upcoming Christian holiday of Easter.

"It is the right of every Christian to reach the Church of the Holy Sepulchre without facing any obstacles, or impediments," Hanna said in a statement.

"The Israeli security pretexts are unacceptable in every way," he added, calling on Orthodox and Christian institutions to facilitate the entrance of Christians to the holy sites.

"We call on our sons, churches and followers to head to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and hold on to this religious and national right and refuse the status quo imposed by the occupation authorities," the archbishop said.

Hanna's statements come days after Palestinian Christian groups in Jerusalem denounced Israeli restrictions on their right to worship in the city, calling for an end to discrimination against both Christians and Muslims in the holy city.

"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," the statement signed "Palestinian Christian Organizations in Occupied East Jerusalem" read.

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 added.

Jerusalem was the scene of violence last Easter, as Israeli forces erected checkpoints around the Holy City and assaulted pilgrims as they crowded in the area.

A statement signed by signed by the heads of all recognized churches in the Holy Land later denounced the "awful scenes of the brutal treatment to clerics, average people and pilgrims in Jerusalem during Holy Saturday," lamenting that clergymen and average people "get beaten brutally and indiscriminately and be denied access to their churches under the pretext of keeping order."

Israel later officially apologized to Egypt after Israeli police officers attacked Egyptian diplomats and a Coptic clergyman at a church in Jerusalem during Orthodox Easter.

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.

There are around 200,000 Palestinian Christians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and inside Israel in total, while hundreds of thousands more live abroad.
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1 ) Maureen / Australia
10/04/2014 23:12
Hope the televagelist Christians that dish out money to the Israeli military junta take note of Zinist bigotry!

2 ) @ the Archbishop / Violence
11/04/2014 00:28
- The Archbishop should understand that Peace Must Come First, and Everything else (prosperity, religous freedom, etc.) will follow, and - Christian leaders in other parts of the world do not incite followers to violence, but that is exactly what the Archbishop is doing, by "calling on our sons, churches, and followers to head to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and hold on to this religious and national right and refuse the status quo imposed by the occupation authorities."

3 ) Joe Fattal / USA
11/04/2014 02:01
I wonder when Netanyahu going to nail himself on the cross, or someone might have to do it for him. He is becoming the savior of the Jews.

4 ) @ Maureen / US
11/04/2014 02:54
unfortunately at least for American televangelists types, Arab which for them equates to terrorist in their minds, holds more sway than Christian, so unless Mr and Mrs Applegate or some such from Kansas gets blocked, they'll just shrug it off

5 ) June Forsyth Kenagy / USA
11/04/2014 04:12
Yeah, Israeli settlers have been putting "hate Jesus" graffiti on the walls and doors of Christian churches in 2013 and 2014 at an ever-increasing rate. But Israel even was discriminating against non-European Jews in the past. Ilan Pappe, Israeli historian, reports that Yemeni Jewish mothers were told their babies had died in order to give the child to Ashkenazi (white European) Jews to raise. About 65% of all Israeli Jews won't live next to an "Arab" or rent to them or go to school with them..

6 ) Tibi / Tubas
11/04/2014 04:33
Christians enjoy far greater religious freedom in the State of Israel, than in any state in the region, and any Islamic or Arab state on the Planet, and If Christians lack any religious freedom in the State of Israel, it is due largely due to the risk of terrorism, where Muslim Arabs would use the Christian Arab pilgrims, to blend in, and gain access for attacks !!

7 ) Dr.Frank Andrea Pennestri / USA
11/04/2014 17:47
Well Tibi..this is the mind set of prejudice. Racial profiling, as it's best. You see people such as you cause the Human Race to De-Compensate. Their were no Palestinians on the Airplane Bombings..However, I suppose for you it is much easier to lump people all together! I challenge you! To look up and study Zionism and see if you agree with their policies, if you do? Your A Zionist !!!

8 ) Mitri I. Musleh / Canada
11/04/2014 18:15
Number 2 / don’t mix religion with Israel’s colonial occupation of Palestine and the oppression of its people and since when a call for prayer has become an act of terror?

9 ) Outlier / USA
11/04/2014 18:49
A couple of truths here. One, Muslims have used religious sites, including Al-Aqsa, for political protests and violence. Two, Israel is responsible for security in the areas it controls. The abuse of religious sites for political purposes is the cause of this problem, not some grand scheme to deprive people of religious freedom.

10 ) Maureen / Australia
11/04/2014 20:14
#6 Tibi Too bad Goyim soldiers (many Christian) have been used as cannon fodder to fight in "wars Israel has to have" - Iraq for instance!

11 ) Sean / scotland
11/04/2014 21:20
@6. To point out how mistaken you are would be pointless. Your assessment is predictable. Having lived & worked in numerous countries in the middle east & other Muslim countries & been openly identifiable as a christian My experience has been in total contrast. with one exception Yes you guessed it. Israel was where I was treated as dirt,quite openly & routinely they had no hesitation in letting Christian pilgrims as I was, know just what it feels like to be viewed as a piece of shit.

12 ) Paul / USA
12/04/2014 18:37
Being a Zionist, Dr. frank, that is wanting a homeland for the Jewish People should be no source of opprobrium. The truth is the Archbishop is calling for violence and he should be arrested. Israel must keep all the religious sites safe for people of all relogion, preventing violence from visitors to these sites and it will do so even at the expense of some minor restrictions on freedom of movement. Tibi is right in his assessment. Things are not perfectbut better than elsewhere in the M.E.

13 ) Colin Wright / USA
12/04/2014 20:13
To @ #2: '...Christian leaders in other parts of the world do not incite followers to violence, but that is exactly what the Archbishop is doing, by "calling on our sons, churches, and followers to head to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and hold on to this religious and national right and refuse the status quo imposed by the occupation authorities." ' Actually, the Archbishop's platform is the most pacific form of protest imaginable. Yet you would deny him even that.

14 ) Colin Wright / USA
12/04/2014 20:16
To Outlier #2: 'A couple of truths here. One, Muslims have used religious sites, including Al-Aqsa, for political protests and violence. ..' Here's a couple of truths about your post. First, it's bizarre, since the article is about Christians, and you start discussing the alleged proclivities of Muslims. Secondly, it's nauseating, since you are essentially seeking to rationalize the suppression of even the most basic of human freedoms.

15 ) Colin Wright / USA
12/04/2014 20:18
To Maureen #10: '#6 Tibi Too bad Goyim soldiers (many Christian) have been used as cannon fodder to fight in "wars Israel has to have" - Iraq for instance!' Well, that is the ideal. Witness the extraordinary lengths Israel has gone to in her effort to embroil us in war with Iran.

16 ) Maureen / Australia
13/04/2014 05:52
#15 Colin Wright Isn't wonderful how the ordinary clear thinking Americans are not being swayed by the Zionist Israel lobby that controls consecitive US governments?

17 ) Outlier / USA
13/04/2014 07:58
14, Colin, causes are causes, wherever they come from. As for suppression of freedoms, its easy to believe in the better nature of people and their religious freedoms until a bomb blows up or rocks rain down - then it becomes a security issue, one that Israel has little choice but to address.

18 ) @ Dr.Frank-7 & Maureen- / \ Tibi/Tubas
14/04/2014 02:49
-7- What you call "Racial profiling", I call History "as it's best," for Never in the History of the Jewish State have churches been burned (even when terrorists used the Nativity Church to escape justice), and Most of Israel Muslims neighbor can Not say the same for their record. - These Facts Speak For Themselves !! And, If "soldiers (of any faith) have been used as cannon fodder", they have only their own commanders and leaders to blame !!

19 ) @ Sean-11 / \ Tibi/Tubas
14/04/2014 03:01
-1- I feel exactly the same way about what you wrote, "How mistaken YOU are. Your assessment is predictable", for - I too have lived in Israel for years, and I've never seen Westerners "treated as dirt, openly, routinely", or Ever, and the same is true for anyone else that didn't pose a security threat, and - I appreciate that threats are scrutinized so that civilized, peaceful people, like myself, do Not become VICTIMS OF ARAB TERRORISM !!!

20 ) Colin Wright / USA
14/04/2014 11:02
To Maureen #15: '#15 Colin Wright Isn't wonderful how the ordinary clear thinking Americans are not being swayed by the Zionist Israel lobby that controls consecitive US governments?' Yeah. What's pretty nauseating is how our politicians are so morally corrupt that they will still willingly support Israel.

21 ) Colin Wright / USA
14/04/2014 11:10
To Outlier #17: 'Colin, causes are causes, wherever they come from....until a bomb blows up or rocks rain down - then it becomes a security issue, one that Israel has little choice but to address.' (I) There are so many logical flaws with your statement that I don't know where to begin. First, when has permitting Christians to enter the Church of the Holy Sopulchre led to bombs going off? Second, there wouldn't BE a security issue if the Zionists weren't taking someone else's land and oppre

22 ) Colin Wright / USA
14/04/2014 11:12
To Outlier #17: 'Colin, causes are causes, wherever they come from....until a bomb blows up or rocks rain down - then it becomes a security issue, one that Israel has little choice but to address.' (II). Third, 'causes are causes.' NOT. Nazism was a cause. Is it therefore legitimate? Fourth, the 'security issue' is a pretty thin excuse to begin with. Precisely how many Jewish civilians have been killed in Israel proper within the last YEAR?

23 ) Colin Wright / USA
14/04/2014 11:14
To @ #18. 'Never in the History of the Jewish State have churches been burned...' Mm. Blown up, yeah. Bulldozed, yeah. Turned into S&M clubs, yeah. But burnt? Maybe not. They're usually stone. You may have a point.

24 ) ian / australia
15/04/2014 03:13
#17 "...its easy to believe in the better nature of people and their religious freedoms until a bomb blows up or rocks rain down - then it becomes a security issue, one that Israel has little choice but to address." Do you sicken yourself sometimes, Outlier, you know, with endless glib crap? Rhetorical, no need to answer. No violence has ever emanated from the Haram al-Sharif that wasn't cynically provoked by Israel. Palestinians know the evil in the hearts of Jews who "ascend the Temple Mount"

25 ) ian / australia
15/04/2014 03:14
(contd.) under the pretence of wanting to pray at their holiest site. It's the same evil in YOUR heart as you type this sickening bilge belittling the suffering of others from far away. No offense.

26 ) ian / australia
15/04/2014 03:18
#6, #9, #17 You guys shoulda been lawyers. (Maybe you ARE lawyers.) So...it's justifiable for Israel to restrict entry to the Holy Sepulchre Church (which is not IN Israel) because MUSLIM terrorists MIGHT sneak in amongst the Arab Christians and stage an attack. (You guys are good.) But surely, in light of recent events, a terrorist attack is LESS likely than ever and so the claim of "security concerns" as the motive is a lie (as it always is). And isn't it MORE likely the restrictions are part

27 ) ian / australia
15/04/2014 03:21
(contd.) of the general tantrumous dummy spit Israel (and its supporters) are currently having and intended to punish (and provoke) Palestinians collectively, Muslim AND Christian, for the bold new political initiative of their leadership?
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