The Israeli regime has refused to issue travel permits to Gaza’s dwindling Christian minority to attend Easter celebrations in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.
In previous years Israeli authorities have granted exit permits to Gaza’s Christian 1,100 people minority.
But last week, the Knesset announced that only 200 Christians over the age of 55 would be allowed to travel to Jordan, without visiting the occupied West Bank or Jerusalem.
This way Israel bars Gaza Christians from Easter celebrations in Jerusalem.
Easter is a rare opportunity for Palestinian Christians living in Gaza to visit holy sites or their families in the occupied West Bank, Israel and Jerusalem.
This is the first time that we know of that the Israeli regime is outright denying access of Gaza Christians to the West Bank and Israel on Christmas or Easter.
The increased restriction on the movement of Palestinian Christians points to further implementation of Israel’s ‘separation or Apartheid policy’.
An Israeli government official said that a limited number of Christians would be allowed to visit the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, but church leaders said no permits had been issued?
It is highly unlikely that permits could be processed or that Gazan Christians could organize travel arrangements in time for Easter celebrations, because Israeli agencies are also understaffed at present due to the seven-day Jewish Passover holiday.
For Gaza’s Catholic community the main Easter mass is held at Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Sunday, while Greek Orthodox Christians, so the majority in Gaza celebrate Easter next weekend.
There are an estimated 50,000 Palestinian Christians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, with a further 120,000 in Israel.
Worldwide the number of Palestinian Christians is estimated at 400,000, most of whom are descendants of those who fled or were expelled during the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948.
Al Araby UK / ABC Flash Point News 2019.