Thousands of Orthodox Christians gathered in Jerusalem and Bethlehem from Friday through Sunday for the celebration of the Easter holiday, which is celebrated one week later than the Latin churches Easter holiday. Greek Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna issued a statement condemning the Israeli restrictions on Christians trying to celebrate Easter in Jerusalem.In his statement, Archbishop Hanna said, “This past week has been a week of pain – as we prepare to celebrate Easter, we have witnessed the Israeli authorities restricting the movement of the population; closing Jerusalem’s doors; and preventing movement, particularly to and from Jaffa Gate where patriarchates and churches are located.’

He added, ‘Visitors to the Holy City during this sacred season, including local Christians celebrating their feasts, suffer due to these actions. The Israeli restrictions prevent many people from having access to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and restrict the freedom of movement of Christian devotees – including clerics of all levels and ranks.’

The Orthodox Christian celebration began on Friday with the commemoration of Good Friday and continue through Sunday, to mark the day that Christians believe that Jesus was resurrected two thousand years ago on the site now marked by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The Jewish holiday of Passover was also celebrated this week. During Jewish holidays, the Israeli state imposes increased restrictions and closures on the Palestinian population living under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and Jerusalem.