The Cradle
Israeli forces prevent Palestinian Christians from entering church, assault clergy
The abuse of Christian worshippers comes as occupation forces carry out violent attacks against Muslim worshippers at the nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque
By News Desk - April 23 2022
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Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, Palestine. (Photo credit: CBN)

Israeli forces blocked the roads near the entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on the morning of 23 April, preventing a large group of Palestinian Christian worshippers from visiting the church in occupied Jerusalem.

In preparation for the Orthodox Easter on 24 April, Palestinian Christian worshippers were seeking to participate in the Holy Fire ceremony on the day before Orthodox Easter, but were blocked by Israeli forces from attending the ceremony.

Speaking to Al Mayadeen, Archbishop Atallah Hanna of the Greek Orthodox Church stated that the occupation forces “blatantly encroached on the sanctity of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, in an unprecedented targeting of Christian presence in the city.”

“This is a cry to the Christian churches in the east and the whole world to pay attention to Christian presence in occupied Al-Quds,” the Orthodox archbishop continued.

Archbishop Hanna said that the Israeli occupation is sabotaging Christian holidays, and called it a crime against all Christians.

Despite the restrictions, a few worshippers were allowed to enter the holy site under very limited quotas set by the occupation forces and were able to perform the Holy Fire ceremony, despite the small congregation.

Israeli forces were also deployed inside the courtyards of the holy site, using physical force to prevent clergy from participation in the ceremony.

The crackdown on freedom of worship in occupied Palestine affects both Muslim and Christian Palestinians, but has been intensifying as of late.

Since the beginning of the month of Ramadan, Israeli forces have launched violent raids into the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem. On the second day of the raids and for every day since, Israeli forces have allowed extremist settlers to enter the Islamic holy site and perform provocative rituals.

On 18 April, Palestinian resistance factions launched retaliatory missiles into the settlements surrounding Gaza after several warnings were issued to the Israeli authorities that the violations in Al-Aqsa would not go unanswered.

This was followed by an Israeli aerial assault on Gaza in the early hours of 19 April.

Additional escalations have taken place between the Palestinian resistance in Gaza and the Israeli military.

Palestinian Christians are subject to continuous discrimination and violence by Israeli forces and extremist settlers.

Christian churches and holy sites are often desecrated. In June 2015,  Jewish extremists set fire to the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish, believed to be the site where Jesus performed some of his miracles.