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Cancellation demanded of visitor limit for Jerusalem church

April 21, 2022 at 8:49 am

Orthodox Christians gather with lit candles around the Edicule, traditionally believed to be the burial site of Jesus Christ, during the Holy Fire ceremony at Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulchre church, on 1 May 2021. [EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images]

Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Interior Minister Omer Bar-Lev have been told that the decision to limit the number of Christians visiting Jerusalem’s historic Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a “flagrant violation” of Palestinian rights.

“Imposing restrictions and limiting the number of worshippers to 1,000 during the celebration of Holy Saturday at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a flagrant violation of the freedom of worship and the right to practice one’s religion,” said the parliamentarians of the Arab Joint List bloc in the Knesset. “It is also a new chapter in the series of Israeli violations of Palestinian rights.”

Bennett’s government, they added, does not spare any effort to limit Palestinian participation in activities taking place in Jerusalem as it attempts to separate the holy city from the other occupied Palestinian territories.

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“Holy Saturday is one of the holiest days for Christians, and the occupation government does not have the right to prevent worshippers from going to the church or to impose restrictions on them,” insisted the MKs. “East Jerusalem, with its Muslim and Christian holy sites, is occupied Palestinian territory. The Israeli government must stop its suppressive interventions and withdraw from it.”

According to Quds Press, on the eve of Easter according to the Orthodox calendar, the Israeli occupation authorities asked the Orthodox Church in Palestine and beyond to limit the number of worshippers at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to 1,000 at a time.

Meanwhile, local media reported that the Israeli authorities will close Al-Aqsa Mosque to non-Muslims from this Friday until the end of Ramadan.