On Friday, Israeli occupation authorities turned “dozens” of church members back from the Beit Hanoun checkpoint, despite their permits to spend Easter in the West Bank.
Those who reached Jerusalem faced “a battle camp scenario,” Hanna Amireh, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee and head of the Presidential Committee on Church Affairs, told the AFP.
“It is not only that Israel has isolated our occupied capital from the rest of our country – forcing our people to apply for special military permits to access their families and holy places for religious occasions – but even Palestinians from Jerusalem were beaten when trying to reach the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,” Amireh said. “Even praying has become an act of resistance for Palestinians.”
Under attack in Jerusalem and siege in Gaza, the Holy Fire ceremony proceeded, as a flame believed to be miraculously produced in Church of the Holy Sepulchre was quickly spread to Greek Orthodox and other Eastern Christian believers across the world.
This year Roman Catholics in Gaza celebrated Easter according to the Orthodox calendar as a show of Christian unity, and many whose service at Holy Family Church had ended earlier joined the gathering at Saint Porphyrius.
The event culminated with a spirited rally and fireworks display in the church’s courtyard at midnight, but continued for several hours into the early morning.