"Peter St." <marbutros@yahoo.com.au>

Statement by Palestinian Christian NGOs Ahead of Easter
20 March 2007
 
We are about to welcome the Easter season after forty days of fasting.  To us, Easter is a reminder of the suffering, crucifixion, and most importantly, the resurrection of Jesus.  In our Land, traditional celebrations have been taking place for centuries, such as the processions of local communities, scouts, participating in Palm Sunday, and Saturday of the Holy Fire celebrations from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
 
Processions and traditional celebrations are governed by the Status Quo over the course of many years.  Such celebrations have been taking placed uninterrupted.  However, in the last few years the Occupation authorities are impeding the celebrations, especially the Saturday of the Holy Fire celebrations of the Orthodox Church.  The Occupation authorities are preventing worshipers from reaching the Church of the Holy Sepulcher or celebrating in the yard on the roof top of the Church, and are preventing the traditional joyful celebration march and the procession of the banners.
 
Easter celebrations are hostage to the whims of the Occupation authorities, as part of policies that are racist and that aim to push Christians to immigrate.  The Occupation authorities are imposing strict restrictions on the movement of Christians during Easter week, and are preventing Christians from reaching the churches, and are adopting a policy that prevents Palestinian Christians from other parts of the West Bank from reaching Jerusalem to celebrate Easter.  Also, barriers are put near the gates of the old city of Jerusalem , especially in the area leading to the Christian quarter, Herod’s Gate, and the roads leading to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in order to deny worshipers their right to pray freely.  A new phenomena now, is the huge presence of Israeli police inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher with their weapons, which violates the sanctity of the Church and religious traditions.
 
Therefore, we, members of the Christian community in Jerusalem, are calling upon our fellow Christians around the world, and the Heads of Churches as well, to put an end to Israeli violations of our right to worship freely in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, so that Christians will be able to enter the Church to pray.