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Israeli Occupation Bars West Bank Christians from Jerusalem on Palm Sunday

Posted On: 24-03-2024 | National News , Human Rights , Palestinian Diaspora
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Jerusalem / PNN / 

The Israeli occupation prevented Christian citizens from the West Bank from accessing the occupied city of Jerusalem today, Sunday, to participate in the celebration of Palm Sunday according to the Western calendar.

Christian churches in Palestine, which follow the Western calendar, commemorate Palm Sunday today. This is the last Sunday before Easter, marking the "entry of Jesus Christ into the city of Jerusalem."

This morning, Patriarch of Jerusalem for the Latins, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, led the Palm Sunday Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The Mass, held in front of the "Holy Tomb," was attended by bishops, priests, a crowd of monks, nuns, and a limited number of worshipers, mostly from Jerusalem and the territories of the 48, after the Israeli occupation denied thousands of Christians from the West Bank access to the holy city.

Israeli forces imposed strict military measures at checkpoints surrounding Jerusalem and in the vicinity of the Old City.

Israeli authorities require Palestinians, both Muslims and Christians, to obtain special permits to cross their military checkpoints surrounding the holy city and access places of worship, especially the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

They also impose restrictions on issuing permits, requiring individuals to possess an "ID" issued by the occupation authorities after what they term as a "security check" for the applicant. Subsequently, individuals are forced to download a special application on their mobile devices and submit a request for the permit, with the application often being rejected.

The traditional Palm Sunday procession will take place this afternoon, from the "Bethphage" Church to the Church of Saint Anne "Al-Salahiya" inside the walls of the Old City, followed by a special prayer led by Patriarch Pizzaballa.

All festive celebrations have been cancelled by the churches amidst the ongoing Israeli aggression on Gaza since October 7th. Festivities are limited to holding masses, prayers, and religious rituals.

A limited number of Christian pilgrims from various countries around the world have arrived in Jerusalem, amidst the cancellation of a number of airline flights due to the ongoing aggression on Gaza, in addition to the strict restrictions imposed by the occupation authorities on foreigners passing through the King Hussein Bridge.

Churches following the Western calendar in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jericho, and Gaza celebrate Palm Sunday, while churches in the Ramallah, Nablus, and Jenin governorates unite in celebrating Easter according to the Eastern calendar.

In the city of Bethlehem, a Palm Sunday Mass was held at the Church of Saint Catherine for the Latins, adjacent to the Church of the Nativity. Masses were also held in various Catholic churches in Bethlehem, Beit Sahour, and Beit Jala. Additionally, a Palm Sunday Mass was held at the Latin Good Shepherd Church in the city of Jericho.

In Gaza City, a Palm Sunday Mass was held at the Latin Holy Family Church, despite the difficult conditions imposed by the ongoing Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip.

The Mass was presided over by Father Youssef Asaad, with the participation of a number of displaced citizens who have sought refuge in the church since the beginning of the aggression.

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