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UN Mideast peace envoy denied entry to Holy Fire ceremony
Published Saturday 19/04/2014 (updated) 21/04/2014 10:03
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Christian worshipers hold up candles lit from the 'Holy Fire' as
thousands gather for the 'Holy Fire' ceremony at the Church of
the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, on April 19, 2014
(AFP Gali Tibbon)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli police on Saturday prevented UN Middle East peace envoy Robert Serry from celebrating the Holy Fire ceremony in Jerusalem, a statement from his office said.

UN Middle East peace envoy Robert Serry said in a statement that he and other diplomats visited the Easter procession to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at the invitation of Jerusalem's Palestinian Christian community.

The procession was stopped at a security checkpoint before the church "despite earlier assurances ... of unhindered access," Serry said.

"The Israeli police refused to allow such entry claiming they had orders to that effect.

"A precarious standoff ensued, ending in an angry crowd pushing their way through."

Israeli police blocked the entrances of all Old City roads leading to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during the ceremony, refusing entry to journalists, international Christian pilgrims, and tourists. Swarms of Christians at Jaffa Gate began singing hymns upon being refused entry.

Serry said he was dismayed that a peaceful procession was disrupted by "unacceptable behavior from the Israeli security authorities."

"Once again I call on all parties to respect the right of religious freedom, granting access to holy sites for worshipers of all faiths and refraining from provocations not least during the religious holidays," he added.

An Israeli police spokesman did not answer calls seeking comment.

Believers hold that a divine fire from heaven ignites a flame in the church, built on the site where Christians say Jesus Christ was crucified, buried and resurrected.

The flame is then passed between worshipers, candle to candle.

The crowd roared as the Holy Fire was lit, in an ancient annual rite dating to the 4th century AD to symbolize the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday.

AFP contributed to this report.
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1 ) Colin Wright / USA
19/04/2014 23:09
'...Israeli police blocked the entrances of all Old City roads leading to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during the ceremony, refusing entry to journalists, international Christian pilgrims, and tourists. Swarms of Christians at Jaffa Gate began singing hymns upon being refused entry...' Is Israel attempting to commit suicide?

2 ) Bemused / New Zealand
19/04/2014 23:25
When will the UN learn that without any powers of enforcement, it is impotent in the face of Israel's intransigence. Time for Israel AND the UN to go, perhaps....

3 ) JoeFattal / USA
19/04/2014 23:54
Even Israel best ally sometimes are not allow to move freely. So I don't see why the US doesn't take a stronger stand against Israel. It just doesn't make sense. But it does make some sense when Israel will use the US envoy as a tool and prevent him from joining the festivity to get out of not allowing some Palestinians to join the same festivity. What an ally the US has in the middle-east.

4 ) Terry / USA
20/04/2014 03:55
Once again, Israel is making every effort to deny the Palestinians the right to exist in their own land. Yet, they demand peace. I hope that the U.N. will not disregard this latest incident

5 ) Jesse / USA
20/04/2014 07:10
What a joke. They complain about israel not allowing freedom of worship to holy places, for all faiths, yet at the exact same time, these people have no problem restricting Jews or another faith from going or saying sprayer at the Temple Mount. Complete hypocrisy

6 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
20/04/2014 09:12
Suspicious, given that the UN is known as a biased broker.

7 ) Jafar M. Ramini / UK
20/04/2014 14:57
Nothing is sacred. No-one is immune. Israel has been allowed to behave outside and above international laws and norms. This is what unlimited US money, arms and diplomatic cover buys. Peace? What peace?

8 ) Colin Wright / USA
21/04/2014 21:23
To Brian Cohen #6: 'Suspicious, given that the UN is known as a biased broker.' Brain, the UN is 'known' as a biased broker by Israel alone. That's because on occasion the UN objects to Israel's crimes, lies, and atrocities.

9 ) Colin Wright / USA
21/04/2014 21:26
To Jesse #5: ' ...these people have no problem restricting Jews or another faith from going or saying sprayer at the Temple Mount. ' You Zionists are really disgusting. Jews aren't even supposed to enter the Temple Mount by their own law -- not until the Messiah comes. But you ignore this. Why? So that you can bait the Palestinians and the Muslim world in general by violating one of THEIR temples.
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