JERUSALEM, Saturday, April 23, 2022 (WAFA) – Israeli police today prevented thousands of Palestinian Christians from entering the old city of Jerusalem seeking to reach the Sepulcher Church inside the old city to mark Easter’s Holy Fire event celebrated by the Orthodox churches.
The Holy Fire is one of the main Easter events for the Orthodox churches in Jerusalem and the world and occurs a day before the Orthodox Easter when the light comes out from inside the tomb of Jesus Christ in the center of the Sepulcher Church and then sent to churches in Palestine and around the world.
Traditionally, thousands of local Christians and pilgrims attend the Holy Fire event inside the church, but this year Israel has decided to restrict the number who can reach the Sepulcher Church to only 4000, a number strongly rejected by the church leaders and the community.
Israeli police closed all gates leading to the old city, forcing the Christians who want to reach the church to go through only one gate, the New Gate, while being monitored and restricted by the police manning this gate.
Arrivals at the gate complained that while Israel restricts access of Christians celebrating Easter and Muslims celebrating Ramadan to their holy places in Jerusalem, it allows free movement and access to Jerusalem to Jews celebrating the week-long Passover holiday, which ends today.
“This is not freedom of religion,” complained a Christian woman trying to enter through New Gate and go to the Holy Sepulcher, referring to statements by Israeli officials that Israel allows freedom of religion for all three Abrahamic religions in Jerusalem.