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9 Apr, 2014

Easter Services: Jerusalem Christians Complain of Israel Denying Access to Religious Sites

JERUSALEM, April 6, 2014 (WAFA) – The Christian institutions and denominations in occupied East Jerusalem Sunday complained about denial of access to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and its vicinity during Easter Holidays.

The Christians described the harassment as discriminatory, racist, and targets the Holy season, said the Christians of East Jerusalem in a statement on Sunday.

“The mobility of worshippers inside the Old City of Jerusalem gets restricted, and checkpoints are put at the Gates and in the alleys- thus preventing the worshipers from free access to the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the vicinity of the Christian Quarter.”

The statement said the restrictive measures by Israeli police constitute grave violation of the freedom of worship and amount to discrimination against Christians “because the occupation authorities want to negate Christian presence and create the impression of a Jewish-only city.”

“The measures taken by the occupying power have been escalating in recent years, and are meant to deny Christian and Muslim presence in East Jerusalem. Due to such measures the faithful are unable to worship freely and to be with their families and friends during such a special occasion,” added the statement.

It said that, “The restrictions began first in 2005, and are in fact unnecessary; politically and racially motivated.”

“The Christians of East Jerusalem note the futility of attempts during previous years to coordinate with the police of the occupying power, more so because the restrictions violate basic human rights and freedom of faith. The celebrations in the vicinity of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Christian Quarter have been conducted according to local traditions and heritage that date back to hundreds of years,” said the statement.

“None of the successive powers that ruled Jerusalem considered tampering with the traditional celebrations and local heritage. The violence against the Christian worshipers is meant to deter them from attending the ceremonies in future years and thus to foster the image of Jerusalem as exclusively Jewish.”

“The Christians of occupied East Jerusalem are calling upon their own faithful not to be deterred by the harassment and to attend the celebrations in large numbers.”

Archbishop of Athens: “Detention of Thousands of People in Israeli Prisons is a Disgrace”

ATHENS, April 5, 2014 – (WAFA) – Primate of the Orthodox Church of Greece and Archbishop of Athens Ieronymos II declared Saturday his support for the Robben Island Declaration for the Freedom of Marwan Barghouhti and all Palestinian Prisoners.

“The detention of thousands of people in prisons is a disgrace to human civilization and a profound wound in the Middle East region,” said Ieronymos II. “We join the rest who are calling for releasing Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian prisoners and fulfilling your fair claims,” he added.

Ieronymos II made these statements in a letter he sent for Palestinian Ambassador to Greece Marwan Toubasi.

Iernymos II was briefed by Toubasi about the international campaign to release Barghouthi, the inhuman conditions of Palestinian prisoners as well as the Israeli crimes and violations against the Palestinian people, most notably house demolition, land seizure, settlement construction and the construction of the apartheid wall.

Toubasi announced that he secured the support of more than two hundreds Greek politicians, academics and artists and labor and legal organizations for the Robben Island Declaration.

Read more: http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.584537